Wow, what a week it’s been. I can hardly believe it’s already over and it’s time for another to begin. Trying to take a deep breath and get ready. Here are my lists for the week, what are yours?
1. Being able to be at and enjoy a beautiful wedding of some wonderful people.
2. Chocolate, it helps all situations.
3. Good friends.
4. The opportunity to meet families of friends.
5. My dressing gown. It’s so cozy and comfy.
Looking forward to:
1. The Olympic torch coming to my town!
2. Re-connecting with some people I’ve not seen in a while.
3. Miss E coming to my country AGAIN!!! and the couple of hours I get to spend with her :o)
4. Going to choccywoccydoodah (and other places in Brighton)
5. Sleepover with my beautiful Sister.
6. The baptism of a gorgeous young lady.
Yes, I know I took liberties and listed six things… but why not!
Hope you all have good weeks… let me know what you’re up to and what you’re thankful for!
We were sat in the pub, enjoying each other, the five of us. Drinks in hand, packets of crisps opened up on the table for all to share, chatter and laughter spilling out of our mouths, friendship overflowing from our hearts. He started speaking quietly at first, just to the person next to him, but slowly we all leaned in to listen and louder he recounted the stories he had just heard and watched earlier that evening. He was excited by what he was telling and we were captured, some with loud exclamations of awe, and others silently staring, trying to process. He continued, story after story, before each one promising it was the last, but unable to help himself sharing another.
He had watched these stories, a DVD to come, online, it’s streaming for just three days he told us, tonight was the last opportunity to catch it. My housemate and I looked at each other, let’s go home and watch it tonight. She was excited by what he had recounted, I was intrigued. Another asked if he could join us, we welcomed him. We extended the invitation to the others, one had to return home, but the other, the story teller was eager to watch again.
So we gathered, in our living room, laptop hooked up to speakers and a monitor, drinks and food spread out. We sat curled up on comfy sofas, blankets ready for when the night air set in, anticipating what we were about to watch. There was an air of excitement from the others, but I was a little reserved. I expected one of two things, either to be bowled over by how amazing these stories were, or to be filled with total skepticism, and I knew I was heading toward skepticism. It’s not that I don’t believe these things can be true, it’s more that I wasn’t sure if I would agree with their method for sharing them, and I wasn’t sure how genuine the stories would really be. I was eager to watch all the same, and I was ready to be stunned and amazed.
I sat ready to be challenged, expecting to be challenged. Expecting to be encouraged that God is able, and God is willing, and God still moves in power today, and that there is purpose and power in loving. Expecting also to be challenged, challenged to be bolder, to be more courageous, challenged to be more expectant, to have more faith.
When the film came to an end, I was stunned, for I had been encouraged, and I had been challenged. But not at all in the ways that I had hoped or expected. God had spoken to my heart, and I felt convicted, and stirred. It had produced emotions in me that I didn’t expect. We expressed our enjoyment and amazement to each other and as they left our house and I settled down to sleep, my heart felt full, and my mind was spinning.
Again God had spoken unexpectedly, about unexpected things, in an unexpected way. I was reminded that He will speak what needs to be spoken, when He wills, and He will not be contained in our box, or within our predictions. Oh how often He takes me by surprise the things he whispers to me, conversations I’m not anticipating having.
I’m trying to be inspired and getting my writing back, but it’s taking a while. So in the meantime I thought I’d share this post for you. I wrote it just over a year ago on my old blog, and it gives a glimpse into what I do in Central Asia, and why.
Self Immolation is the act of setting oneself on fire, normally with the purpose of ending one’s life. As with all suicidal means, it is also used as a way of escaping their current life, or as a cry for help.
Self Immolation is a common issue among women in this country. I am told that across the country cases seem to be lessening, over the past few years, as women’s rights increase and more freedoms are given.
Women who survive and are treated in the various burns units across the country often tell tales of how they were unhappy with their standard of living. Forced marriages, domestic violence, abuse from in-laws, being forced to stay inside the home, lack of access to education, extreme poverty, all these are given (often combined) as reasons for the suicide attempt.
I often go to visit organized groups of poor women in their homes as part of my work here. The other day I went to one of these groups and one staff member noticed that one of the ladies (We’ll call her Obeda) was missing, we asked after her and this is the story that was given to us:
“Obeda died last week. She was very upset with her life, she was not given permission to do anything, coming to this group was the only time she could leave her house. Her husband would be very angry at her, and if she did something wrong he would hit her. Her life was very difficult, and she was sad. One day X and I heard her scream, it was the daytime and I knew her husband was at work. I ran to her compound and when I went through the door I could smell the diesel, I saw fire on her body, then X came into the compound too. We fetched water and put it on Obeda but her burns were very bad. We took her to the hospital, the doctor said she was very ill. The next day she died.”
I had never met Obeda, but some of my colleagues had, she was a young women, late 20’s. I am told that she was always eager to learn, and that the group was where she found her identity and breathing space.
Stories like that of Obeda are far too common here, the issues she faced in life, and the way she chose self immolation to end it. This is one of the reasons I do the work I do, to help women realize their rights, to help them be able to discuss issues of domestic violence, forced marriages, lack of education, to teach them how to cope with emotional stresses, to diffuse conflicts in the household, to try and break the cycle of some of the negative things, and to reenforce and encourage the many positive aspects. To work to bring joy, hope, and freedom.