This weekend I learned several new and varied things that have been knocking around in my brain. So before I get to my promised post of beloved Aussie products, I thought I'd share these things with you. To me, they're kind of a good sampling of things that go through my mind in an average few days' time--from the absurd to the silly to the quite important. A combination of motherhood, ministry and life in Oz.
1. We got a letter this week saying that the New South Wales Department of Education will reimburse us for expenditures we make on behalf of educating our kid. (NSW is the state we live in.) We can spend up to $750 and get reimbursed half that amount. Wow! We are still getting used to the way things operate here. Of course, Ava is in kindergarten and though I have receipts for some glue sticks I bought, we haven't made many "expenditures". Jason and I started wondering if the purchase of a surround sound system would enhance Ava's educational pursuit. Surely, Elmo's World coming from 5 speakers would increase her book learnin'. Right? Then we remembered that Jesus would probably not do something like that. So. Maybe I'll just buy more glue sticks.
2. Some good friends of ours are hosting a Swedish woman who has been doing missionary work in Greece. She's been working with women who are "employed" in brothels there. Apparently, most of these women are brought to Greece with promises of jobs or opportunities, then basically enslaved in these places. She told our friends that in Greece, brothels are legal as long as they only have one woman at a time working. Which is pretty much a recipe for enslavement, if you ask me. Which got me thinking about the whole subject of human trafficking. (Told you some of this stuff was pretty heavy.) Many people say that there are more human beings enslaved somewhere on the planet today than at any other time. Read that sentence again--can you even believe that? I guess there's no way to have completely accurate numbers on this, but it just makes me ill to think about it. The US estimates that somewhere between 600,000 and 820,000 are trafficked each year, mostly women and minor children.
The Church is waking up to this crisis--human trafficking is the third biggest crime in the world, behind arms and drug sales, and the fastest growing. The poor are preyed upon, for exploitative labor of all kinds. I've been thinking about how small churches like ours can do our part, and how ordinary folks can speak out. I am far, far from an authority, but for one, we need to pay attention to the products we're buying and what kind of places they might be coming from. (If you read about my love for discount shopping, you know I'll be thinking about this!)I personally believe that the concerted efforts of the global Church can do much to bring solutions. Here's what World Vision Australia has to say about it, if you're interested. Incidentally, our new friend--the Swedish missionary, would go into the brothels, ask the madam for a few moments with the girl who was working and then talk and pray with her, presenting her with options for a way out. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but I thought that was a beautiful way to start.
3. On a lighter note, Jason and I had dinner in the city last night with some friends of Jason's parents who are in town. We ate in Darling Harbour. Wait--I have to show you a picture of Darling Harbour cause then you'll wanna come see me:
I KNOW. We totally live here. Anyway, so I wasn't sure what to expect about this dinner. We didn't really know these two couples. But we really enjoyed ourselves. I got all caught up in the story that Sue told about going on "The Price is Right" in the early 80s. That was my fave game show growing up--I watched it everyday. Then, when she told me that she WON the Showcase Showdown, I about died. It was like meeting someone famous! Well, not really, but I did get all the dirt on Bob Barker. Among other things, Sue won a full length fox fur coat and a week in Paris. How 80s fab is that? (I am not a fur fan, but isn't that sooo 80s game show?)
4. At the same dinner, we got into a discussion about baby names and the bizarre names that people sometimes choose. One of the ladies knows a couple whose last name is Leer. They named their daughter...wait for it... Crystal Chanda. So, yes, her full name is Crystal Chanda Leer. Go back and read that sentence another time. Are people insane? They have basically condemned their daughter to be an exotic dancer, cause I don't know what else you're gonna do with a name like that. What's the most interesting or weird name you've ever heard picked? Do share!!
5. Before starting to write this, I was reading news reports that the worst ever wildfires in Australian history are raging to the south of us, near Melbourne. Victoria (the state that Melbourne is in) and Adelaide have had absolutely scorching temperatures over the last two weeks, reaching as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. In the midst of my silly blogginess, scores of people have died while trying to flee the fires. Please pray with me for cooler weather and for these fires to die down.
6. And finally, the other night, I was driving the kids to run some errands. It was rush hour traffic, so we were all sick of being in the car. I was waiting my turn at a big roundabout (America needs more of those, but that's another post), saw an opening and went for it. As I whipped around the circle, Ava calls out, "Yeah, mom! Get your nuts out!" Um, excuse me? Yeah, that's totally what she said. I said, "Wow! Ava, where did you hear that?" All the while thinking, Great she's only been in kindergarten for a week and already she's bringing new words home. I knew we should've home schooled. She says, "I don't know, I just made it up right now. It means, go for it! Have fun!" Awesome. I think it's the next big catchphrase, don't you?
So have a great week, everyone! In all the varied, funny, interesting, and crucial things that cross your path... In the spirit Ava meant it in, Go on, get your nuts out!