Monday, 4 June 2012

A grand time was had!

Well trained orderly arrangement of chicks 
We have had a fabulous week of sharing stories and sharing much laughter with our two visitors, Paul and Geoff, who I mentioned had arrived last week. We were really touched to think that they had travelled so far, not knowing who we really were, apart from what they had read in my blog, and yet feeling there was a connection to be made. Geoff even set off at 12:15am by bus from the North East to get to the airport on time. Thanks also to God for prompting them to come. The house seems quite quiet without them now though. They were as helpful as possible and lent some willing hands to moving lots of wood, holding metal frames as Ian tried to work out how to make a new implement for the two wheel tractor that would level ground or rake it and cutting the dreaded ground elder - which I am pleased to say is on the retreat thanks to the persistent cutting of the dratted stuff. They even acted as foreign observers whilst I handed in a letter into heating company to tell them why I wasn't paying the heating bill yet. There was much hilarity as suggestions flew as to what could be made of the tasks if we were to put a spin on it for the purposes of raising funds and you can read the result of some of those discussions from Paul's perspective on the Perspectives blog hosted by Martin Scott (our mutual friend and the person responsible for setting us on a path to what we are doing a lot of here in Latvia and the link to us becoming acquainted).

Just looking honestly!
As I was gardening today I was thinking about the spin that is put on actions and how projects are portrayed to raise funds, whether that be in a charitable setting, a missionary setting, research setting, business setting or even a political setting. Martin Scott raised the issue of how electable a politician is without the spin and I was wondering what is the line between over inflating actions to make a project look good, to make us look good or to convince people of the success of a project and selling an idea that has potential to do good? I had the provisional results for my Masters this week and they were very good which gives me the green light to go ahead with the next stage of study, a PhD. I mentioned a few weeks ago though that doing a PhD is expensive and I could do with raising funds in order to go ahead with it, but that means selling an idea that I have for research. So I have to balance the selling of the idea of the project with realism, and not over inflate the idea. I really do feel there is a gap in the research and that there is a need to do some rethinking of the application of support for farmers in areas where money is not in abundance because at present the money is either not effective or not getting to where it is needed, but how to phrase that in a realistic way that might lead to release of funds! Oh boy! I was never meant to be a salesman.

Enjoying a little boiled egg
The dilemmas tie me up in knots at times and then something comes along and seems to unravel the knot and crystallise what I'm doing and today was one of those days as a friend posted a picture of a malnourished hand of a child in the hand of well nourished person and the phrase posted below was

If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.
~ Norman Borlaug

The people in Latvia are reasonably well nourished these days, not as obviously short of food as many we observed in our early days here, but the reason for doing a PhD is both to cultivate justice for farmers and to enable them and their children to keep on farming, we need people like these to produce food for our growing world population - even if the Latvian population is shrinking - but how that happens needs to change.

You mean it isn't another chick picture?
No! This is the rampant grape in our
greenhouse that seems to have plans on
taking over.
We had one of those very bizarre moments this Sunday in our local supermarket. As we were shopping music was playing over the tannoy and we heard the introduction to a song that was very familiar to us, but the setting was all wrong. We looked at each other as recognitions dawned on us, it was a Delirious song called "History Makers," a Christian song we have sung in many different places, in different countries, but we have never heard it in supermarket in the middle of rural Latvia before. Why would a song like that be playing? For me it is quite a significant song as it is a song that dares me to believe that even someone like me can make a difference to history, not because I am special in anyway, but because I believe in a God who longs to change the course of history for the good of the people who live in this world. It was even more bizarre because it had followed a week of talking about living for God embedded in community and here we were listening to a song about living for God whilst going about our ordinary life of shopping in a supermarket. You can't get much more embedded in the community than that.

All 16 of them. Spuggy is the little brown one in the top
centre of the picture and penguin is the black one at the
As you may have guessed Paul and Geoff got to see the amazing miracle of chicks hatching from eggs this week. These chicks aren't as big as the previous hatch and each one has a different colouring - not the uniform breed at all. We have had a better success rate this time as 16 of the 19 fertilised eggs hatched, it was nearly 17 but one of them must have died of exhaustion as it managed to break the egg open but just didn't get out of it. One of the chicks we have nicknamed Spuggy, which is a corruption of Sparrow because it just looks like a sparrow with its brown colouring and another is nicknamed the penguin partly because it kind of looks like a penguin at times but also for the way it flops about as the poor thing has a problem with its legs. I had to separate the penguin because I found it at the bottom of a pile of chicks on a couple of occasions and it was exhausted trying to reach the food bowl because of the problem of walking. I have even been getting a chance to play at being a vet - something I wanted to be as a kid but didn't get the grades. We at first bound the feet together with a plaster (band aid) which at least got it standing upright at times, but it was still walking on the bend of one of its leg. In the end it has a support of rubber hose and cream applied to the swollen joint and we have been massaging the joint to try and get the achilles tendon in the right place (Cor! The things we are learning). It is hanging on in there and is still eating but we can't put it in with the others yet as it would still get trampled in the rush to get fed.

Poor little fella, but at least he isn't under a pile of other
chicks and gets his (or her) own bijou residence
I was struck this week by a news story of settlers facing evictions due to a posh development in Papua New Guinea. While no one that I know of is facing eviction from their homes due to a posh development, the gardeners outside our apartment block could still face eviction from their gardens to make way for a posh development. There is no other reason for paying such an astronomical sum of 82,000 Lats (the sum I saw on an advert for the piece of land $146,000, £96,000) for a piece of property 4.3 ha (11 acres) in our area. As I said at least they won't lose their homes but they would lose valuable ability to produce their own veg - and who is selling this land? As mentioned before the church. Sorry but I don't think that would be in God's plans.

The splint on the leg to try and stop it from inflaming the
joint any more. A little camera shy obviously
By the way, if you are wondering why it is virtually only pictures of little chicks this week, besides the fact that they are really cute, I'm waiting for the pictures from Paul (hint, hint!)


  1. don't apologise for the chick pics...they are really cute!!!! Love that quote.....

  2. They are cute, thought most folks wouldn't mind really. Glad you like the quote.

  3. Sounds like you all had a good time together! Haven't seen Geoff yet as we have been on holiday in Scotland but will catch up with him and hear about the adventures!

  4. Sounds like you all had a good time together - haven't seen Geoff yet but will catch up with him to get the news!

  5. Hi Ju, did you have problems with the comments? Couldn't decide which one you would want publishing so published them both :D.

    Hope you had a good time in Scotland. I love Scotland and if I wasn't happy living here in Latvia I would be quite happy to move there.


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi