My baby turned one yesterday (a little more on that later) but the most profound thing of yesterday was an unexpected visit from a 9 year old Belarus girl who has been staying with Rebecca's godmother for two weeks. The stay has been challenging for them all, and I could not begin to comprehend how huge it is for a child that young, who speaks very little English, to be here without her family, in an alien environment, amongst people chattering on around her. She did smile at my few words of (very poor) Russian, but ultimately struggled acclimatising even to the play with dolls, dominoes and colouring pens that was going on at ours. I know that my 40 year old Japanese friend struggles to adjust when she visits England every summer, and her English is great! Ultimately, the provision of summer holidays for children from disadvantaged and contaminated areas of Belarus still suffering post-Chernobyl is a wonderful idea, and I am assured that when reunited with her friends for days out the little girl chatters incessantly. It also reminded me that as well as the very real and immediate problems in East Africa, that there are areas of the world whose post-disaster environment still requires attention, funding, and care.
Similarly, over at Elizabeth Esther's blog are frequent reminders that in every pocket of every land, there is poverty, addiction, violence and pain that we may not know about, or may turn away from. I can comprehend that the visceral, up close suffering that Elizabeth is experiencing wants her to mobilise everyone to help in this specific situation in Bolivia, and get frustrated that contributions aren't coming. Most of us don't feel able to give to everything that calls out for help; we know we can't fix the bigger picture, and experience helplessness in the face of something that hasn't touched us personally. But I think this is why God calls people like Elizabeth to act as mouthpieces for the disenfranchised - so they can move us, and get us to ask ourselves, "Can we find it in our family to sponsor (another) child?". What's the true cost of providing hope?
On a lighter note (because we need lighter moments to navigate us through this broken world!), one of my favourite bloggers, Permission to Live, alerted me to something new, and I was entertained by the Top 8 Crappy Laws of Parenting today. Somehow they really resonated with me!
Yesterday was a wonderful parenting day however - ThirdSister, my littlest girl, the delightful Rebecca Mary (who is already toddling) turned ONE YEAR OLD! I think the best part of the day is that it drew expected and not so expected visitors - we had the opportunity to see all four grandparents together, feed them cake and let them enjoy the girls. One of FirstSister's godparents also dropped in with her 7 month old and it was an amiable atmosphere. Nothing big or showy but a lovely celebration of a first year.
I also discovered a quick and easy way to get some digital photos printed out by Truprint (UK) so I can put them in a photo album Rebecca received as a baptism gift (and she has her first year documented in the same way First- and SecondSister do!). Such an easy way to do things - no added costs such as VAT to surprise me at the checkout, and I could easily pay by Paypal. The prints have been dispatched, so if they are as good as the service, I would recommend them!
As a holiday update, over the past week we have been: handwriting; reading; visiting the library; been to one of favourite haunts, Newstead Abbey, with our cousins for a picnic; seen Cars 2 with the prize tickets my sister-in-law gave to us as she is in Spain; had a pyjama day; learned about Ramadan; and seen an exhibition and an animated film by children at one of our favourite galleries.
Finally, I don't know quite what to expect, as an Anglo-Catholic, from our first visit to a Methodist church on Sunday. Learning about other denominations is part of our family's Christian education every summer (we visited a local Baptist church last year) and yes, I am hoping to go to Mass as part of this very soon. Some of my best friends are Methodists, we attend a Carer and Toddler group there, and our singing group performed a concert for Christian Aid at the church in May. I have loved learning about the Methodist traditions as part of my ministry training. They are amazing at outreach work - many of their summer services involve work and worship at their Tramstop Garden, a community enterprise, but we are attending a more traditional service this time. So I look forward to taking the children to see their friends' church, and learn more about what goes on there (after I've been to our Anglican 8am spoken Eucharist service) - I'm excited but a little apprehensive as it's a new thing - and something I'm sure I'll blog about.
Have a good week, everyone! Thanks as always to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for hosting.