Goats, trains and more paperwork

Said Teen to Boyfriend, “When you were looking after goats in Colombia, did you ever imagine that one day you’d be sitting round the table here with us?”  Of course not, but he used to watch the aeroplanes overhead and dream of the day when he would go on one.  So I said to Teen “how about you, when you were a little kid in the children’s home in the hills, did you ever imagine that one day you’d be sitting here?”  There was a long pause… “I hadn’t thought of that” she said. 

I was structuring the latest sermon (just uploaded it to the sermons tab) in my head while simultaneously building a Thomas train track for one boy, and supervising the other clipping together his beginner’s electric train set.  It is still a tough discipline not to give in to the temptation to write it all out, but it definitely goes better when I don’t.  The feedback was that it was “simple but challenging”.  I guess doing the prep in the midst of family life does avoid any tendency to ivory tower academicism; if your theology doesn’t have anything to say at four o clock on a Saturday afternoon, or nine thirty seven on a Tuesday morning, then one might be tempted to ask whether it has any use at all. 

Monday morning I had a meeting with one of the mothers for whom I still have an outstanding possible job offer, depending on the health-care provider agreeing to provide the funds at some point in an indeterminate future.  I presented my paperwork ages ago, the provider claimed that they hadn’t received it, so last week I went in and confronted in the politest possible sense the person into whose hands I had personally delivered the folder.  They rooted through a few piles of paperwork and located it.  Then they presented me with another heap of forms, but when I glanced at them it was fairly clear that they needed to be filled in by the mother.  So the staff member asked if I would contact the mother to ask her to come and fill them in. 

She went to the healthcare provider on Friday, where again they claimed that I hadn’t sent in my paperwork, and when we demonstrated again that this was not the case, they gave her the second heap of forms and told her that she and I needed to complete them together.  So I spent Monday morning in her house.  We did what we could, but this is the most comprehensive health-check I have ever seen; questions about liver, heart, brain, and every other possible bodily function including some I hadn’t heard of.  “But I’m only asking for a support worker for school, and I’ve presented everything they could possibly want to prove that she needs it” wailed the mother.  She’s barely literate; she had to go away and look up her daughter’s date of birth, and I did most of the writing for her. 

This is just clearly an injustice, and we are at the point here where not to name the injustice for fear of being “culturally insensitive” would mean to deny the injustice, to pretend it’s not happening, and in doing so we stand with the oppressor against the victim.   So it’s injustice and I’m naming it.  But we still have a whole lot of paperwork to do. 

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