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“I can’t find my mobile phone, and I am going to be out of the house for three hours this afternoon so if anyone needs to get hold of me, you can try at x place from this o’clock, Y place from that o’clock, or z place from the other o’clock.”   Posted on Facebook. 

It’s a cultural thing.  I understand every one of those words written here, but for the life of me I cannot get my head around the culture of the person who would feel the need to post this. 

Is there something significant going down at their end?  Possibly.  But if it was me, and it was seriously major, I would be in the location of the seriously major thing.  If it was a jump or two lower than seriously major, or if I had no option but to leave for a bit, I would have made sure that the key people would have a proper way of contacting me; borrowed cell phone possibly, and I would share that data privately with those named people. 

Apart from that, the “if anyone…” phrase seems to suggests less a specific crisis than that this person feels a general and on-going need to be available, whenever and for whatever.  So I wonder how far is this writer truly indispensible?  How much of their world might be in danger of collapse as a result of their three hour absence?

If we disregard the possibility that the person may simply hold narcissistic delusions of their own importance, then we are left facing the serious notion that rendering this person incommunicado for three hours really might result in disastrous consequences.  Heck I feel sorry for them already, that’s a huge responsibility that I can’t even take three hours without the universe going to pot around me. 

When I was nineteen, an anonymous someone posted a note on the door of the place where I was working.  It said “Graveyards are full of indispensible people”.  Since then, I’ve come to consider that becoming indispensible is the point where selfishness disguises itself as saintliness.  If my absence of three hours would be enough to induce a potential crisis in those around me, then I probably need to stop and take responsibility for the devastation I would cause if I got run over on the way home and found myself in intensive care for six weeks (or worse).  Yes, it’s great to be needed.  We all need that.  But if my need to be needed is such that my absence would irrevocably cripple someone else’s ability to get on with their life, then I need to stop blocking out the light.  Make some contingency plans, train up a substitute, start bringing through my potential replacements, step back and let others take the applause. 

I know this poor un-consulted Facebook poster, whose post I have taken in vain, hasn’t asked for my advice, but as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, it would be this: The role of centre of the universe is already eternally occupied.  So chill out and have a beer… when you’ve found your phone. 

Thank you Lord Sugar

The Independent review summed up the 10th series of the Apprentice as the return of the ‘Self-aggrandising nicompoops’  Meanwhile on this side of the pond, the last few days have felt something like juggling all twelve tasks of the Apprentice, combined with the labours of Hercules. 

In addition to the normal stuff of life, working, teaching, parenting etc.,

Installed in the spare bedroom we have the fifteen year old, at short notice because the teens home was rendered unexpectedly without running water (I suspect sabotage but we didn’t go into details).  She has flitted in and out with boyfriend, slept while normal people are awake and vice versa, and grazed her way through anything that might have contained sugar.  Teen.  I’m just not used to them.

Installed in the normally unused back room we have ex-prisoner friend, who is here to make himself useful for a few days so that we have an excuse to pay him.  As we speak he is taking the garage apart, hopefully in a it-has-to-get-worse-before-it-gets-better sort of way. 

The Scouts were selling pizzas in order to start raising money for summer camp.  It was quite hard to persuade them to get motivated in October.  They don’t normally start thinking about summer camp until about two minutes before the event, at about the time when they realise that they haven’t got any money to pay for it.  So it was a bit of a grind, but we sold 62 pizzas in the end. 

Joni had his first competitive swimming event on Saturday morning.  He won his breast stroke heat, and there were medals for everyone. 

I had to gather the paperwork and the rubber stamps in order to sign Danny up for school next year by eight o’clock this morning. 

We supposedly had a district Scout event on Saturday evening, for which we had a couple of planning meetings, but in the end was rained off.  I have rarely been so grateful for the Argentinean culture of “Any hint of rain stops play”. 

We did have a tea and games on Saturday afternoon for the mothers of Scouts, for which I made a cake.

And also a bring and share after church on Sunday evening, for someone’s birthday, for which I made another cake. 

And we are helping one of our Scout mums with a barbecue chicken sale.  The mum need cancer treatment, and in the government healthcare system, treatment comes free, but you have to pay for the medication.  Go figure. 

Meanwhile, I was writing my sermon for Mothers’ Day which was on Sunday.  I started thinking about “Jerusalem Jerusalem”, slid over into Isaiah, and ended up coming to rest in 1 Kings 17 and God feeding the widow feeding Elijah.  And in the event I ditched all my notes and went up to the pulpit with nothing more than my bible.  Which worked fine, apart from the fact that I can no longer read the tiny print from the bible under the poor light at the front of our church!  Options for the future include printing out the passage in larger font, or to start using those reading glasses. 

This weeks tasks include presenting the paperwork to borrow the agricultural college for a Scout event in November.  And writing a talk for a Christian kids’ group on the subject of Halloween.  The more I think about it, the less I care about whether kids dress up in bin bags or not.  So now I need a different line on this if I want any chance of sounding remotely credible.  But right now, I need to go buy a new pump for the fish tank, and then I have an English class to teach. 

Lumpy Custard

The plot thickens like lumpy custard. 

We have spent this week finding out about life in a cash-using society when you don’t have access to cash.  People do use cards here in big places like supermarkets and multi-national petrol stations (although YPF the state-run petrol company won’t accept cards).  But day to day purchases from butcher baker and candlestick maker are strictly cash affairs, as is the paying of the rent.  Since last Friday we haven’t been able to take money out of the ATM system.  We haven’t yet got as far as selling the kids into slavery, but our landlady is becoming antsy. 

We appear to have emerged unscathed from the latest round of ministry politics from which we can’t share details in public, but everything has gone quiet on the Western front at the moment anyway. 

Mission stuff chugs along.  I slipped up to Salta for a few days last week for exec meetings.  It was a nice change to go away on my own, and the meetings were far less arduous than sometimes so there was plenty of time for coffee and a long walk. 

I’m doing battle with 2 Timothy 4 for this Sunday.  It feels a bit like the wall at the three quarter mark of a long distance run; legs hurt and the end isn’t yet in sight.  Although in this case probably more brain than legs.  My four-sermon series has also just become five since the person up next is going to be away for the first Sunday.  But rather than spinning 2 Tim for another week, although there is more than enough scope to do so, I’m thinking I will probably do something random and one-off for Mother’s Day (19th October) possibly involving Isaiah. 

Currently listening to classic Marcos Witt, South America’s answer to Graham Kendrick.  Mexican, Marcos Witt was the mainstay of every church music group when I came here first in the nineties, and remains popular to this day with his mix of original numbers and enlivened versions of trad favourites.