Monday, 13 October 2008

God's plans and nothing but God's plans

I thought I would start off with my thoughts today before telling you all what we have been up to this week. Well I know that I know that I know that God has plans for me but it is nice when God confirms it too. I finished reading "Acts for Everyone" by Tom Wright yesterday and so resorted to my standard read of a "Bible in One Year" for my daily bible reading and read Jeremiah 27-29 which contains one of my favourite verses Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." It always leaps off the page to me and then I read it again on the Biblegateway verse for the day. I think I get the message! I have been reading some of the news regarding the credit crunch and often feel like knocking heads together and telling the stock traders to calm down and get a grip. There is so much greed and it is oozing all over the place, and so many frantic trips by ministers of the different nations, scrabbling for a solution. Strangely enough though it does not frighten me, I have been saying for awhile that now is a time of opportunity and Martin Scott's prophecy in September "then look for the connections of peace, and without great ado make the connection, gently but deliberately placing our seed into that place/in that direction". We have been getting prepared to do some deliberate planting and I feel the time is getting near now and I actually feel quite excited. 

Some things I read on the Night Watch Prophetic Network seems a little like end times paranoia but some really resonates with me and one in particular was a prophecy by Cindy Jacobs and Dr. Sharon Stone (no not the actress) entitled "Pray for the Economy". Wouldn't it be fantastic that instead of reading about the bull market or the bear market we were reading about the lion market? Wouldn't it be fantastic that the economies of this world were really seeking to look after the poor instead of getting rich for themselves? Wouldn't it be great if the world's leading bankers were actually sorry for their responsibility in this mess (and no they are not the only ones guilty, we all are when we have been looking to make a quick buck) and sought to put it right by helping those very people who were given too much credit that they in reality couldn't afford? Wouldn't it be great if the poor could actually get credit if they really needed it at rates that the rich get? 

That actually leads me onto another topic I have been looking at this week and that is the role of microfinance. I have had some reservations regarding the role of microfinance when I realised what incredible interest rates were being charged. Some of the finance does go to some worthy causes and really helps in the battle against poverty but I do wonder if it is really that helpful if the interest rates are well over 30%, even if that is better than the local money lender and does come with some business advice and support. How much better it would be if small businesses in the developing world could get credit to start up a business or develop their business that was nearer to the rates that we expect here in Europe or in America for the rich. I realise that sometimes we have to give people the means to start or develop their own business but sometimes I also realise they need to have ownership of that business so giving them a handout to start their business might not work, sometimes it does. I guess that is where we really need to get to know the people we are lending to or trust the intermediaries.

Well now onto what has been happening in our household this week. We or I should say Ian has been shovelling muck most of this week- boy that stuff is rich! There is not much straw in it, and it is slightly liquid, makes your toes curl thinking about it but we are sure that by Ian double digging the garden (ie going down two spade depths down for the uninitiated amongst you) and putting a layer of the good stuff on it then our garden will continue to be as productive as it was this year. We are still getting leeks, swedes and cabbages out of the garden and living off the potatoes we dug out earlier this year. I am only just now starting to use some of the stuff we froze earlier on in the year and that is only to give us a bit of variation on cabbage.

I wouldn't like you to think that while Ian has the job of shifting the evil smelling stuff that I am swanning it in the flat, I have been dealing with bucket loads of apples. We did our bit for the local economy and bought a juicer for me and a wheelbarrow for Ian and that means we can both get on with our jobs a little easier. I have found out that one large bucket of apples produces two well concentrated bottles of apple juice or four not so concentrated bottles (not sure we will have enough bottles to do the less concentrated stuff but it takes hours to gently evaporate off enough to give us concentrated apple juice). I also discovered that the juicer gives off a lot of froth which is quite thick, and Ian prefers apple juice without the bits, so I was then left with the dilemma of what to do with it. I boiled the froth down and this makes a very tangy apple sauce which makes a nice spread or adds a subtle apple flavour or sweetner to most things. It is amazing how much is improved with a bit of apple sauce when you have loads of the stuff. Just hope the pateurisation of the apple juice kills off all the bugs so we don't end up with 
exploding bottles later on in the year.

Finally got signed up for the open university course - but something struck us as we were chatting about the confusion of getting on the course, I didn't fit the norm. There was a little confusion as to precisely which course I should sign on for and that has been the story of our life we don't fit the conventional boxes. Most of our life has been a series of confusions  because we can't be categorised - it's wonderful! If you don't want to be fitted into a box then don't do what everyone expects, simple!

On Wednesday we met the Mayor of Ērgļi and it was a real privilege he is such a humble and modest man as he would not take credit for himself. He has been Mayor since 1997 and his purpose is to serve the community in which he lives. He concentrates on small projects that do something rather than massive waste of money type projects and it shows in the gradual change that has happened here. I do hope that we maybe able to meet him again and help him in serving this community.

On the way back from meeting the Mayor we saw a notice stuck on the door downstairs, our Latvian is not great but some words we did know and some we could guess made us quite excited, it looked like we might actually get some heat the next day. Well we waited and Ian bled the radiators (let the air out) several times and we heard a couple of gurgles and lo and behold we had heat - well for five minutes we had heat. Not sure what happened after that, but the heat did not appear as promised and then the weather warmed up so we still do not have heat in our apartment except a small fan heater that we use when we get really cold. We have resorted to old-fashioned techniques like lots of layers and a quilt that someone made me. Warm comfort food is in and salads are definitely out! If it was not for the end of year garden preparation I would seriously think about being away for the whole of October next year or maybe it would be cheaper to install a wood heater. We also had another power cut this weekend which lasted about three hours, but we had a walk to the shops and called in at the bakery on the way home - well we didn't have any heat or electric so we may as well warm up at the bakery, that is my excuse and I am sticking to it!

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