Friday, February 28, 2014

Gospel Coundown Friday

If my life had a soundtrack what songs would be in it?

What a great question.

In my childhood it would be old Finnish Christian children's songs.

The songs I sang in Sunday school, at church camp and in school.

Songs I would hear at my home after my parents had money enough to buy our first record player and then after that a cassette player.

Very peaceful, even sedate and uneventful songs in minor.

Most of Finnish songs are in minor and Finland is one of the few countries that sings about early death and graves in their cradle songs.

5. Ystävä, sä, lapsien - virsi 492 (You, Friend of Little Children)

You are Friend of Children. 

Where ever I go in the world, there You are with me.

The luck may change in this world but Heavenly Father is always my safety.

We moved around a lot when I grew up.

I was 20 when I came to Ecuador and I had moved over 30 times before that.

I never had very long roots because I knew I would need to get them up, shake the earth and move on.

It was a hard way to grow up but on the other hand I had a chance to experience a lot.

I saw different things and ways to live, from cities to countryside.

And learn about life in a way I could not have if we had always lived in the same place.

What was always the same in my life was the church.

There was always a church; there was always Sunday school, Scout or Youth group.

Later on, there was always a choir to join.

When I was in Junior High School I went to a mission to Estonia with our youth choir.

At fifteen I went to mission trip to Germany.

It was just after the two Germanies were united and I had an opportunity to talk with a pastor from East Germany who had been in prison for his beliefs.

I was able to visit the church and the church members and hear how they life had been under the communist rule.

And I was able to visit Buchenwald, a visit that changed many things for me, forever.

Here one of the songs we used to sing in choir.

4. Pekka Simojoki - Herra Kädelläsi (Lord, on Your Hand)

Lord, on Your hand, I can live, it is the safest hand in the world.

It is my joy to be close to You, I can only trust in You.

I want to sing Your deeds.

When I was in High School I moved to my own apartment.

It was a big thing for me, I became independent.

I lived in an apartment above our church, right next to my uncle and his family.

Not so independent but for me, I was on my own.

My apartment become very fast the unofficial meeting place for our church's youth.

We would talk, watch movies from VCR (yes, I'm that old, record players and VCR, LOL), talk, and listen to music from my cassette player.

One of the groups that would always be playing was Guardian, and this song brings me back to that little apartment with big windows and thick walls.

Aparment filled laughing friends.

Or on my own in teenage angst, wondering if I will ever really know what love is. 

3. Guardian - Do you know what love is?

Then I came to Ecuador and my musical distress begun.

It was also literature withdrawal because there was no way to get books in Finnish.

And I could not even speak Spanish, learning to read books in Spanish seemed like a very far away dream.

Finally I got some books in English and was able to read them.

Just like I was able to get few Amy Grant CDs when the cassettes I had brought from Finland with me fell apart.

I just didn’t feel comfortable enough listening to music in Spanish, it was too new, too different.

Those few books and Amy Grant CDs were my lifeline to the world I knew of.

2. Amy Grant - Baby, baby

It's been more than 15 years since I came to Ecuador.

I don't want to do the math and count the exact number.

Because it is such a long time and I'm so old.

It has not yet been half of my life but it won't take many years for my life in Ecuador to have been longer, than the life I lived in Finland.

I speak Spanish, I'm able to read books in Spanish, give speaches in Spanish and dream in Spanish.

I also feel latin rhytms.

They are part of who I am now.

And I have learned to love the music.

It is part of my life.

1. Alex Campos - Sueño de morir (Dream to die)

Tears and blood all mixed up, it was Your dream to die.

Blood and silence was the price, the price of my life.

Forever I will be Yours, an offering to You.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

May you grow to be as beautiful as God meant you to be when He thought of you first

In Finland every other mother seems to suffer from mom-guilt.

They feel they don't do enough for their children.

That they are not there enough, don't give them right kind of attention, and don’t spend the precious time being educational/fun/loving/understanding/strict/caring/exemplary/inspiring/creative enough.
"The more lowly your service to others, the greater you are.  To be the greatest, be a servant.  But those who think themselves great shall be disappointed and humbled; and those who humble themselves shall be exalted."
Matthew 23:11-12
The Living Bible
Either they feel that they are spoiling the child or not giving them enough love.

The food they give to their children isn't nutritive/green/chemical and colorant free/wholesome/homemade/tasty/natural enough.

There is a huge worry about the safety and it is taken care till extreme.

Everything is made baby proof, child proof and life proof.

All the risks are being avoided to the most possible degree.
Every single person in our lives will disappoint us at some level.  Some days they'll be busy when we need them to be still; other days they'll be self-centered when we need them to concentrate on us.  Sometimes they'll bruise us with hard words aimed right for the soft places in our soul.  They won't meet all our emotional needs.  They can't; they have too many needs of their own.  They're sinners just like us.  Only our Creator can love us perfectly, the way He created us to be loved.  His love is the only thing that can define us without destroying us.
Lisa Harper
The children who grow up are called individualists, egocentric and selfish too often.

People claim that the youth concentrate on their own pleasure, there is a sense of entitlement.

Young people feel that they are entitled to have everything and shouldn't be made to work for it.

There is an ever growing drug problem and alcoholism, people living from the government, without work or real aspirations.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
Proverbs 15:17
The Revised Standard Version
The marriages don't last and divorce is more and more common.

And the mothers know this.

And we feel it so hard, we carry the guilt, try to educate our children to be successful and happy, to make it, in the life.
 “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
Jeremiah 29:10-14

In Amazonian Kichwa culture, here in Ecuador, children need to learn to take care of themselves and their siblings, as soon as possible.

Sometimes that means from two, three or four years on, or even earlier.

Babies are left alone for long stretches of time, little children are left home with chicha (at radio all beverage that ferments in just one day here in the heat) and little else.
The sermon of your life in tough times ministers to people more powerfully than the most eloquent speaker.
Bill Bright
If they wish to eat they need to start a fire, cut and peel with large kitchen knives and tend hot food all by themselves, while taking care of the younger siblings.

School aged children, from four years on, are left at home during the whole week while parents go to tend their farms, many times returning only for the weekend.

Deaths and disability from burnings, falling, choking, poisoning, drowning and other home accidents are sadly all too common.
If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.
Romans 4:4-5
Traditional child rearing techniques among Amazonian Kichwas include spanking with nettles and putting chili pepper in the eyes so the child will be able "to see the wisdom".

The girls grow up to be responsible from the early age on.

They take care of the house, the food and their younger siblings.
When I was young, I admired clever people.  Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
 They cook and clean and make sure, the best they can, that everyone is well, alive and attending to the school.

And then at fourteen, sometimes earlier, they fall in love, and have their first child at sixteen, sometimes earlier.

The boys play games, climb to trees, swim in the rivers, play football and do their best in school, if they are so inclined.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
John 8:12
The New King James Version
In their teens they fall in love, usually get married with the girl when she gets pregnant, but sometimes they skip that part.

The young newlyweds either divorce really fast or keep having children while the wife takes care of the home, and the husband, not so much.

Not all Kichwa men are irresponsible but having casual relationships with other women is quite common, and not really that bad, as long as the wife does not find out.
May you grow to be as beautiful as God meant you to be when He thought of you first.
George MacDonald
Alcoholism and domestic violence are sadly too common also.

The women see their husbands as priority.

First to eat is the man, first to get new clothes, first to have fun and enjoy.

He is the one who decides the life for everyone else.

Children are dear but lost so easily that it's better to have many.

And they need to show their usefulness, not just expect to be fed, clothed and given an education.
To follow Jesus doesn't remove us from the stuff of life.  It is not resolution.  It is tension and journey.
David Crowder
I do not miss Finland or the children swearing to their teachers and talking back to their parents, ruling the family lives with their whims.

I do not want to embrace Ecuador completely either.

There are wonderful things in both and things that are so sad that they break my heart.

I know that I am just a human, just like any other mother, and I can only do my best, just like you.

I know that I have mistaken many times and I don't even always do the best I could.

I know my errors and carry the guilt in my heart.

A David Psalm

27 Light, space, zest—
    that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
    afraid of no one and nothing.
    When vandal hordes ride down
    ready to eat me alive,
Those bullies and toughs
    fall flat on their faces.
When besieged,
    I’m calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose,
    I’m collected and cool.
I’m asking God for one thing,
    only one thing:
To live with him in his house
    my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
    I’ll study at his feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place
    in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
    far from the buzz of traffic.
God holds me head and shoulders
    above all who try to pull me down.
I’m headed for his place to offer anthems
    that will raise the roof!
Already I’m singing God-songs;
    I’m making music to God.

Psalm 27:1-6

The Message (MSG)
But I also know that every day is new, and there is another opportunity to make it all better and show my son how much I love him.

Another chance to guide him to be the man I wish him to be.

Another opening for teach him the right way, to show him the path where I want to lead him, so he can walk it on his own when he's an adult.

Another potential day, to get closer to God and what He meant us to be.