Home

17 Sep

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

– All sons and daughters

I have been silent of late. The last month in Siem Reap was busy. And as you say goodbye to people who you have come to love dearly it really is sad. I have moved lots. I have said goodbye to lots of friends. This time the move comes with the realization that I won’t be able to jump in my car and visit next weekend. Some of the goodbyes are final. So those final moments with special people are precious.

Ridding yourself of the stuff you have collected in nearly 3 years is perplexing, refreshing and confusing all in one. Confused over who or where to give an item. Perplexed at how you once arrived with one or two suitcases and now there are suitcases of stuff going out your door each day. Refreshing of knowing you have nothing, of being rid of the thought “what do I do with this?” Traveling light. I do confess my suitcase was not so light when I finally got on that plane, heading for Home.

And I began to ask myself what is home for me? What is the picture that comes to mind? What exactly am I heading for?

And so over the last few months, as I have arrived “home” I have had this amazing glimpse into what Home is for me. I had these dreams of returning to Bourke street in the last few months of being in Siem Reap. And it was strange to think I was not returning to the home I left.  Given the time away, there was certainly a concern that I would arrive home and it would not be home. And at moments I catch myself thinking of my Siem Reap Home.   In fact in my time back in my homeland I have thought of a number of Homes and the people I have share homes with. To share just a few there are memories of Craziness at Donnington street, of Green-bay , Days in Glen Eden, The mount house and all the good people you meet along the way. I have resided in so many places. So many homes.

I am currently enjoying the time with family in my Randell place Home. Returning to NZ has been a great time of reconnecting with friends and family. I have not quite managed to see everyone yet, but I have enjoyed catching up. I like the fact that I have more people to see, and they are just a road trip away.  And it’s been nice to take things rather slowly. It’s not often that we have quiet time in life and so I am enjoying the quiet.

There’s this picture in our minds of home being a safe place. Home being a refuge. A place to be ourselves. A place where we might be at our messiest and our happiest all at once. Beautiful spaces. Creative spaces. Practical spaces. Where meals are shared. Laughter is heard. Comfort. Unchanging. Constant. Home.

As I got on the plane to return home there was this great knowledge within of exactly where I was going and where Home would be. Its funny though the way life turns out. As I send out CVs around the country, as I begin to google destinations completely unknown, as reality hits that I will be packing the suitcases again.  I wonder, ‘ Perhaps I am not home?’

Perhaps home can be anywhere. Having made a home in a foreign land I think we can make homes where ever we go. Maybe home is not safe. Maybe it’s a place of change.

As I stand on this path, I find myself waiting and wondering what might just come next.   Where will I be tucking my suitcase next? Where is home? Who will be the people that sit around my table? Where will I find rest? What will be the questions and the challenges I wrestle with? And I am left wondering perhaps in this life we are never really home, perhaps each bend deepens us. Each twist widens us. Perhaps home is not what we think it is, and perhaps it is all that and more. Perhaps home lies within?

And so I find myself waiting and wondering. And you will find me now writing in a new spot. Check it out

 

Tick Tock

26 May

25 days

There’s less than 25 days to go. And 25 days ago I began the countdown. 50 days… what amazes me is that 50 days is in fact a long time, nearly but not quite 20% of a year. And yet with 50 days left in Siem Reap I felt like I could start counting down. Force myself to start saying goodbyes. Who wants to do that? And to think. Well school is busy. My mind is busy. I can’t seem to find many words to write. And yet ideas are exploding out of my mind. Some I don’t want to put to text yet. Why? Some maybe best not said. And others are yet to be words but are percolating, like a good cup of Joe and I hope maybe they will come to me. I think there might be something still left for me to take away from this incredible season.
But with 50 days left, I begin to share my 50 beautiful moments in my last 50 days. Here’s the first 25 there’s plenty more to come….

50. Beautiful Alli
49. Praying with Nary.
48. Micha enjoying a teaspoon of marmite
47. Tuk tuking around Angkor Wat with my beautiful friends, Sarah and Nary.
46. Wednesday night dinners with beautiful girls.
45. Nurse Emily coming to my rescue
44. “My motodop drive” waving out.
43. Insane moments of visiting a crocodile farm. Why? Why? And don’t do it!
42. Skyping with Bridgy, Alyson, Jenz and Ro. You still have exactly 25 days or so to get in on the action.
41. Texts from my nana.
40. Smiles from Nary
39. Sharing a room with Rachael and Glenda. Yes I am in my element. I get to share my classroom.
38. Hugs from a little princess at school.
37. Going in the wrong direction again! I love you Cambodia.
36. Chats with me ma
35. Coffee, Couches and air-conditioning
34. The egg lady. And by that I do not in any way mean she is an egg. I think she is a gem, and so I buy my eggs from her.
33. Coffee with Nay.
32. Havana coffee. Yes I still have a small amount remaining. There is indeed a God looking out for me.
31. Journals. Thoughts. Last moments.
30. Sunrise.
29. Laughter. Giggles. Joy – I love the 6 year olds at school.
28. My team. IS. And most especially the North-West team.
27. Symmetrical turtles named Trixie.
26. Sharing some simple games with some beautiful and amazing teachers at Bamboo Shoots.

And there are a few more to come….

Hellos and Goodbyes

26 Apr

So there I am walking down the small but very hot stretch of road to the nearest air con cafe out of school. And the yells of the motor bike taxi drivers are clearly in the air, as I yell back “No” in Khmer. After all it really is a 5 minute walk to my destination, when suddenly a lady in pink pulls up on her moto. She’s one of the staff of a cafe near my house and she is insistent that I jump on and she will give me a ride, the whole kind of 20 metres because “its hot”. We speak completely in Khmer and as I get off and am really thankful I am just amazed at how at home I feel. Here I am getting rides with mere acquaintances, speaking a foreign language. Just by being here in this space, living the very simple life that I live, I have connections.

Its funny how my mind with only 10 or so weeks left in Cambodia, has quickly switched to thinking of what comes next. In part I have to start planning, to apply for a job or two and do the practical things like ticket buying, letting go of things here, and finishing well. But given my mere 8 months here in Siem Reap it feels so strange to be packing up from a place that is only just becoming home.

In this western culture there is something I have learnt about many people, and perhaps I too am the same. But I find that people often take time to warm up to you. That we don’t do Hello’s well. We know how to farewell people exceptionally well. But often it is the Hellos we don’t do well. I mean imagine it. “Hi, I know I am new at your school and I am having a “hello party” at my house this weekend. Wanna come?” I guess not only might you think me a bid odd.. Who does a hello party? But no one might come. And well that would really not be a good start to a new time in a new community.

In my culture back home welcoming someone or a group of new people is called a powhiri. And this welcoming is a big deal. There’s a Karanga at the start, a calling of the manuhiri (guests) onto the new land or this new place by the hosts. This calling onto the land is then followed with a moment of remembering of the people that have gone before. Then comes the initial meeting, the exchange back and forth the conversation where each party shares of themselves, and perhaps talks of the things they are going to do together and a friendship is born. At the conclusion the host and the manuhiri become one, they embrace, they share a meal. They are one. And no longer is the manuhiri, the visitor. Afterwards both host and guest can be found doing the dishes.

I wonder when we live with such lengthy mindsets where we think we have forever to do things, that we might miss some opportunities. Perhaps someone has come to live in your land for a month or two, what if we missed that moment to embrace them. What if we missed that moment to engage in conversation, to become one. “According to Waitangi kaumatua (elder) Wiremu Williams, of the Nga Puhi iwi, po can be translated as a venture into ‘the unknown’ or a new experience, while whiri is derived from whiriwhiri meaning the act or experience of exchanging information and knowledge.”*

Perhaps I missed an opportunity. Perhaps I should have been having myself a hello party. There is so much to be learnt from venturing into the unknown and that amazing moment when we share with each other information, knowledge and experience.

But for today I accept that embrace and the oneness with my Khmer tuakana (younger sister) and I am challenged to welcome and care for those in my midst and perhaps I will be having me a little hello party in the future.

*(I acknowledge the use of the website http://www.newzealand.com/travel/media/features/maori-culture/maoriculture_powhirimaoriwelcome_feature.cfm)

Graduation = Good times

29 Mar

I first enrolled at Carey Baptist in 2001 while I was interning at Crossroads and given that its now 2014 and that 13 year gap is about a third of my life it feels like a long time ago.

In the good way that I do things, chop and change. Go and stop. My initial enrollment of a certificate in youth ministry did at some point change and morph into a graduate diploma of applied theology, which is what I graduate with this saturday. At long last! Its been a part-time journey in the midst of many other adventures, and mainly those where I was involved with youth and young adults. Who are now not so young… making me what? Perhaps also not so young.

Graduating makes me look back with fondness of those memories. This week, I sat at the school table chatting with a number of middle schoolers and that thought went through my mind.. I miss this. And for me my love of teenagers, the generation below us, the next generation will always be with me.

And I think I learnt so much more in all those years working with those amazing individuals then I did in the books at Carey. But for me there is a tiny sense of completing a step in the journey. And I am happy.

Below are a few photos of the good times.. the memories… the people that inspired and continue to inspire me…sadly I don’t think I owned a digital camera until recent years so there are many images missing… packed loving somewhere in my garage…but more so packed in my heart.

Good times….

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Mangroves

16 Mar

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I have this image stuck in my mind. An image of the mangroves covered with water out on the Tonle Sap.

In September last year as I floated through the Mangroves, I have not been able to actually get out of my mind the peace and tranquility I felt on that day. There was something special in there and I have been unable to put my finger on it. But I remember thinking as we floated on the murky water and through the trunks and under the branches…God is here.

As I see the mangroves I think of the scripture that talks of a tree planted by the stream who in the drought will not wither and die and as I see these mangroves I am drawn to the verse. It’s been a favorite of mine throughout the years. I have written it on the cover of journals. Preached about it. Shared it. Contemplated it. Written it indeed on my heart or at least in my head.

But what about when the floods come? What happens then? I could say that this last 12 months has been a storm. The floods arrived metaphorically and literally. That first season of waiting was over and I was immersed in water. Perhaps I am the tree in the mangrove?

In days gone by, I’ve wished to be the strong and solid one. Unmoving. Am I no longer solid? Perhaps I am changing with the tides. Have I walked away from things I believed in long ago? Drifting in the waters? Bending as the tide flows around me.

I am reading Rob Bells book at the moment “ What we talk about when we talk about God.” And yes I think it’s a goodie. I am one of those people who take forever to read a book. Piles of books litter my room, their ideas seeping around into me. There’s some Richard Rohr on the go, a bit of Miroslav Volf, and Rob Bell.

Bell writes of how conviction and humility are not opposites. That I might be convicted of something, and so fiercely believe in it that I might even die for it, but that in the same instance I could utter the words “but I could be wrong”. That conviction and humility dance together.

“Like a tree, planted near water, with deep roots. A storm comes and the tree doesn’t break because its grounded enough to…. bend.”

And the floodwaters rise, and the winds blow, and the leaves might be battered but the tree is grounded enough to bend around the storm that comes it’s way. The tree goes with it. Bending with the storm waters.

For me, I suddenly have the words to explain a little of how I feel this year. Perhaps a little of how I have felt on my journey in this strange land.

I am by nature a passionate person, I get sold out for things. I whole heartily believe in them. I give up my career to pick up something I am passionate about. I pack up my life to give something I am passionate about a go.

And yet I am also a person of great change. I change my mind about things. I move my opinion. I hope in some way this is part of me being transformed. Becoming slightly better. I don’t really know. But it’s who I am. And yet it worries me that I could be convicted about something, and then change my opinion because perhaps I was wrong. Or perhaps I just needed more perspective to bend my conviction.

In the past as the storm has rolled in, I have waited until it has rolled out and then stood proudly. Defeating that storm. The mangroves of the Tonle Sap seem to always have a little water, splashing at their feet. The storm does not seem to surpass. The storm waters linger, and become part of the landscape.

A friend today reminded me that Joy is not a feeling of happiness. Joy is the ability to recognize the residence of God’s love within us in the midst of all sorts of troubles. I love this idea.

I am that mangrove tree. In the year that has come I have found great joy. I stand in the murky dark polluted waters. And those waters are seeping in. But yet I stand knowing that there is a love, a power, a being with me. That God is indeed presence in my midst regardless of the storm waters that still lurk around me. And there is something incredible about being able to sit with the waters splashing at my toes and know peace, and know joy.

I hold firmly to the things I have learnt in this season, and I hold firmly to the things I know to be true. But at the same time I can say “I could be wrong.” And I know there are beliefs, and truths that I hold that will change.

Because I will bend, I will move when the floods come and I will be one that changes and moves with the tides that flow in around us. And I hope that we can begin to help others see that their faith too could be one that bends and moves with the tides and the storms that come there way.

The back streets of Siem Reap

22 Feb

A glimpse into life in my village…

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one of the things I have found most refreshing since moving here is the biking around the back streets. Given that I live on a back street, it does not take long to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist mecca and into real Cambodia.

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A naughty post

16 Feb

Right now I am in my classroom. Naughty post you ask? Yes I am writing this during work time. It’s school time. But I have to start writing this post. The kids are singing this song.

And to heck with it, I don’t care I am going to write this blog in work time. They sound amazing. Miss Emily (my current housemate extraodiniare, and guest at Hope school) is teaching the class some songs, which we will be teaching kids in Battambang next week. The class is just so enthusiastic and so loving the idea of camp next week. In fact because of their excitement…I am feeling rather excited myself.
So go on…click the link again, enjoy those happy, enthusiastic voices and be thinking of us next week as we head off for camp.
Watch out Battambang because here they come…..