Yesterday was Joni’s 7th birthday.  We replaced his small second hand bike with an bigger and better second hand bike.  He wanted to take it to school.  We said he should test it out closer to home first.  Ten past seven in the morning found him doing laps around the plaza in order to convince us that he was safe to ride it to school.  He won. 

Joni new bike  Joni new bike 

He decided that this year it was important to have his party on the same day as his birthday.  I made a guitar cake.  His friends were all impressed.  Birthday cakes here are normally either round or square with a plastic Spiderman/Disney princess (delete according to gender) stuck on top, so it is easy to generate a response simply by doing something different. 

Joni party guitar cakeDanny in ball pool Joni party

Last week disappeared into a flurry of activity.  The fourteen – now fifteen – year old announced that she wanted to come and live with us.  That is unlikely to happen for a number of reasons, not all under our control, but it meant that I had to attend two meetings at the teens hostel with support workers and the psychologist to talk about how we can build stronger and healthier links with her.  And then there was just the normal stuff of life, taking and fetching kids, teaching English, feeding people, working with Maxi.  I’m still writing sermons, and there was also a Scout camp this weekend which always involves a couple of days of running around gathering things, planning activities, generating paperwork, and buying food; followed by running around of a different nature, after the kids all weekend.  And then I disappeared into a different sort of flurry; of icing sugar into the wee small hours on Sunday night in order to produce the requested guitar cake ready for the big 7 on Monday morning. 

Floating Strands

Here are a few of the things that I am currently thinking about in no particular order…

From some conference notes I scribbled ages ago.  Sew seeds in the lives of individual people.  Currently plugging away on my 2 Timothy sermon series, (and realising that chapter one alone could occupy all four weeks if I choose to let it).  I am struck that while both Jesus and Paul at various times were surrounded by multitudes of people, when it comes to who they really walked alongside, we are talking about a handful of named individual mentees.  And I’m thinking that while doing big stuff is always more impressive on a human level, if we could make a real difference to three people’s lives then we probably will have have achieved more for the kingdom than any attempt to fit seventeen people into the diary before breakfast. 

From the Independent 7th September.  The scientist leading Britain’s response to the Ebola pandemic has launched a devastating attack on "Big Pharma", accusing drugs giants including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi, Merck and Pfizer of failing to manufacture a vaccine, not because it was impossible, but because there was "no business case".  This of course is a totally  logical outcome of allowing the market to dictate policy; it makes far better economic sense to focus on long-term drugs for rich people (Prozac, Ritalin) than it does to produce short-term medications to save the lives of people who can’t afford to pay for it.  If we don’t like that, what are we prepared to do to change it? 

This one.   and this one.  I’m pondering on radical hospitality, what a fantastic phrase.  It took me a while to come to a decision for various reasons, but I’m supporting 

The Missing Billions: The UK Tax Gap estimates that 25 billion pounds is lost through tax evasion every year, of which 12 billion comes from (or rather, doesn’t come from) the 700 largest corporations.  Meanwhile the UK department of work and pensions estimates that for 2013-14 The total benefits overpayments due to fraud and error across all benefits is £3.3 billion.  So even if we were 100% charitable to the UK government and assume that the entire benefit loss is due to fraud rather than error, we can still see that benefit fraud is but small change compared to tax evasion.  The interesting questions are; why does the UK population seem better able to tolerate a higher level of stealing from the system by the rich than by the poor.  And is this phenomenon peculiar to the UK or have we hit on something about the human condition?  And wherever that philosophy might take us, the practical issue is this: you can carry on buying cheap goods from those 700 corporations, or you can lament the cuts to public services.  But not both. 

And finally.  Why is it that my new phone, which will probably make you a cup of coffee if you swiped the screen in the right direction, is completely incapable of producing anything other than a pathetic squeak when a text message arrives.  My old, sadly deceased, un-smart phone had no problem with producing a variety of sounds of different lengths and volumes according to the preference of the user.  I am told my new phone can be trained, but only if I go to a website, find the sound I like, download it, add it to the phone, and then select it.  Personally I’m struggling to imagine how adding several extra steps of work in order to render the machine fit for the purpose it was bought, could possibly be indicative of any sort of technological progress. 

I found my desk

A new computer in the house reminds me of how clothing worked when we were kids; enter a new coat and everyone else’s stuff shunted down a child.  Martin bought himself a new laptop when we were in England (higher spec, more choice, and better priced than Argentina).  So, I inherit the older laptop, and the even older desk-top, which had previously been Martin’s old desktop and more recently my computer-shared with the kids, has become the kid machine.  We (that’s the royal we, more accurately, Martin) rebuilt it with a minimum of software mostly for film-watching and game-playing, and shuffled it across onto a trolley on its own.  And now I have my desk back. 


I spent most of a morning devoiding it of sweet wrappers, Lego bricks, and assorted other juvenile accoutrements, followed by sorting nine months worth of filing (can’t always blame the kids for everything),  and lastly cleaning away the intermediate layers consisting of paint fallen from the ceiling and the plaster which is dropping off the walls.