Tag Archives: family

Post 187. I’m back- I think

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I have been putting this moment off for three years.  Just in the past five minutes I have deleted this sentence at least six times.  Questioning and doubting.  I am also very aware of what’s coming if I start this again.

I need to get into my photo albums, diaries and scrappy script to add details of the past seventeen years to it (2000-2017).

I am going to need to be disciplined and creative and my memory is going to have to be shaken to it’s core.

Many of the events of the past seventeen years in Delhi have been painful.   I’m not sure I want to re-visit them or put them down for others to read but I will aim to do this slowly and with wisdom. These years have also been among our happiest.  It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.

So, my last and final excuse is that when it comes to writing,  I am lazy and need some major motivation.  I have recently had some lovely comments about my blog being inspiring and helpful, so I will start again.

Tony and I are leaving Delhi soon to start another community from scratch; for the first time without our kids.

Asha, Zoe and Jordan were 12, 11 and 5 when you last read about them.  It was the year 2000 and we had just moved to Delhi.  They are grown ups now. They are all married and we have two grandchildren.   It has been our greatest happiness to have them all within walking distance of our house in Delhi. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

We are moving to Nagaland (Far North East India). The internet there can be quite unreliable and I’m not sure how often I will be able to post my posts.  Probably not every day. It may be erratic- so to you ladies who sat down with your cup of coffee and my blog every morning- you may be disappointed 🙂

I am learning (and I’m a slow learner) that if anything needs to be done, I need to do it, otherwise it won’t get done.  Profound, I know.

Thank you for following my story.  I hope I can keep it addictive and interesting and inspiring.  I love knowing who is reading and what you are thinking, so please let this be a two way thing ok?  I need all the encouragement and inspiration I can get 🙂IMG_0292

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Post 103. Priorities

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Things started to heat up.  A couple who had been meeting with us were being threatened.  They were told they would lose their jobs.  Some labourers were told the same thing.  There were lots of prayers going up.

Ali’s time with us was up.  We dropped her in Dehra Dun and I sobbed all the way back to Mussoorie.  I cried for days.  I really missed her company.

There were times when Asha and Zoë took strain with our busy lives, especially when we had overseas visitors.  There was always so much to talk about.  They loved the company but we weren’t taking time to be with them.  They were so good with all the moving around and they loved being surrounded by lots of people.  They had learnt to sleep everywhere and anywhere; which made things easy for us but we were constantly reminding ourselves to slow down to just be with them.  It was also difficult to be consistent with their discipline.  Our lack of attention made them more demanding which made us more irritated which led to more tension.  It was a real battle.

We were also constantly aware of the battle for our marriage.  One night when I fell into bed after a long day, God whispered in my ear, “Don’t withhold affection from your husband.” Another time, I woke up in the middle of the night.  I couldn’t sleep so I started praying.  For some reason, Tony also woke up and started getting amorous.  I felt irritated and in my mind I said to God, “Now what?”  He said, “Love your husband.”  He kept reminding me of the importance of prioritising my family.

It was so easy to be nice and kind to everyone else.  We loved spending time with new people and could spend hours chatting and praying with them.  Tony and I needed to do the same with each other.  Our lives were so focused on building the community that we sometimes lost touch with each other.

God knew our dreams better than we did.  He put them there.  He knew our passion for the lost.  It came from Him.  We knew we were living our dream but needed to be careful how we lived it.

During a particularly difficult time for us,  God once again came to our rescue and gave us something to think about.  His words to us were, “Don’t let your dream become a nightmare.”  We knew that the biggest nightmare for us would be to lose each other.  Even if we won the whole world we would have lost everything.

Post 97. Nana Betty

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Betty and Tony

Tony couldn’t believe his mum was coming to India.  His memories of her vacuuming carpets twice a day and keeping her house meticulously clean made him wonder how she would cope.

We drove to Delhi to pick Betty up.  The last time she had seen Asha was when she was 9 months old and it was her first time meeting Zoë.  They loved each other instantly.  It was so moving to see them with their Nana.  They had no idea what they were missing until that moment.  They were all over her and she enjoyed every minute of it.

Christmas was spent in Mussoorie.  James and Willi put on an incredible lunch for us at their house.  Betty fell in love with everyone.  They also fell in love with her.   She became everyone’s Nana.   She loved hearing their stories and would sit for ages just listening.  Hiram loved chatting to her.  He talked very fast and in an accent she wasn’t used to.  After a particularly long chat, she came to me and said, “Lin, I didn’t understand a word he said.”  We had a good giggle.

After Christmas we made our way to Delhi and onto a train headed for Goa.  We left our jeep at the YMCA and got a taxi to the station.  We were running late so Tony told the driver to get there “jaldi se.”  He took off like a rocket, winding in and out of the traffic.  Betty thought she was going to have a heart attack.  Her heart was pounding by the time we got to the station.  We ran for it and managed to get on just before it started moving.

The eighteen-hour train ride was interesting for Betty.  The Indian style, hole-in-the-floor-toilets were a challenge when the train was rocking from side to side.  She took it all in her stride and didn’t complain once.  In fact we didn’t hear her complain once about anything.  She was amazing.

We spent the night with our friends Arun and JoyAnn Philip and their children Yohaan and Priyanka.  It was fun catching up.  We laughed ourselves silly at the most ridiculous things.  Yohaan teased and irritated the girls until they cried, but they all woke up good friends the next day.

We flew to Goa and went straight to the Watkinson’s flat.  They were away and said we could stay there for a few days.  We then settled into “C” Roque, which was where we stayed for three weeks.  It was amazing.  The rooms were simple, right on the sand and there was a shack restaurant right on the beach.  That was where we had all our meals and watched the sun set on the ocean every evening.   The girls made lots of new friends and we enjoyed seeing our Goan friends again.  James and Willi were also on holiday and were staying in a room next to ours.   It was during one of our many conversations that James mentioned that he had not been baptised as an adult.  There was no time wasted.  We drove to a beach up the coast and both James and Betty were baptised in the ocean.  What a day that was.

After an amazing beach holiday, we made the long trip home.  Mussoorie was a white wonderland. Within twenty-four hours we went from building sandcastles to making snowmen.  In two months, Betty had almost seen it all.

Post 43. The Johnson boys

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Tony and his best friend Sandy

Tony and his best friend Sandy

Tony’s adventurous life started when he was given a red tricycle.  His best friend was Sandy the Cocker Spaniel.  Jan and Ben were at school and Sandy couldn’t keep up with all his energy.  Mid morning, Betty got a call from the principal.  Tony had cycled 1 km across main roads and through the town to go to school.  He was three.

Ben was the “scientist.”  He unscrewed anything that had screws; when he couldn’t find something to undo, he would put the screw driver in power sockets, or put tea towels on the stove to watch them burn.  He was four when he pulled the handbrake at the top of their steep driveway and smashed the car into the house.  He didn’t talk much, but when he did, it was meaningful.  Betty took him in his pram to the butcher, Mr Mooday.  Doug had complained about the meat they had for dinner the night before.  Ben greeted him and then said in a loud voice, “Mr Mooday, do you know what my dad said?  He said he was going to wrap those chops around your bloody neck.”

Tony, the little entrepreneur, made his dollars from delivering newspapers and getting deposits from collecting glass soda bottles on the beach.  He also made a quick but humiliating 20c from Jan.  She played dress ups and he was her little sister.  He just kept his mind on the money.  The clothes came off quickly when he saw Doug and Betty trying to hide their smiles.

He was tightly wound up.  His words wouldn’t come out fast enough so he spoke a kind of gibberish for a while.  Walking was another boring past time.  He ran everywhere and was always barefooted.

School was a drag apart from the “trips” he went on with his teachers and  Maths was only interesting when he had some substance assistance.

It seemed that the only common thing we shared in our childhood was our love for pranks.  Tony’s were just slightly more aggressive.  He threatened to get his teachers after school with, “We know where you live.”  Once he and his friends found a life size toy gun; they drove down the main road in their car and found a Mormon man on his bicycle.  Tony pointed the gun out of the moving car window and said really slowly, “I’m going to shoot you.”  The gun made a loud bang and the guy fell off his bike, thinking he had been shot.

Tony and Jan

Tony and Jan

Ben

Ben

 

When Ben dared Tony to push him off the roof of the house, he did.  While Betty was dealing with Ben’s broken arm,  Doug went after Tony.  He chased him around the house and garden and eventually gave up.

The more we talked, the more we realised that if we had met at any other time in our lives, we would NOT have been interested in each other.  Tony was wild and woolly.  He had experienced most of what life had to offer by the time he was 14.  He left school to work with Doug in his tea business.  Then it was life in fast cars with model girlfriends. He started to earn more money in a week than the average NZ family earned in a month.

His family had no religion to speak of.  Tony’s was hedonism. He lived for anything that brought him pleasure.  No holding back.

Post 25. Bev

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I was impressed with Dave for not fishing from my friendship pool and catching such a good fish.  Mowat Park Girls were having their matric dance and Bev Sumpton needed someone to go with her.  Dave was more than willing.  

We loved Bev.  She became part of our family and slept over most weekends.  It was fun to have another sister.   We tanned, swam, shopped and bathed together.  Sue, her and I would squeeze into our little bath and soak and talk for as long as we could.  We laughed so much at how Bev would wash her face with soap and sit and talk to us with mascara running down her cheeks.  

Mr and Mrs Sumpton were interesting.  Gloria was big and Clarry was small.  He wore a patch over his left eye and was always working in his garage.  When Gloria called, he dropped everything; immediately.  We went there to put our feet up, but Gloria wouldn’t let any of us sit down for long.  If there was food to make, we all had to help.  If there was a dirty cup it had to be washed, and dried. No laziness allowed.   She was definitely the boss. 

They were funny too.  We visited them on their small farm a few times.  They had a big black pig called Lesley, a lamb, a monkey and lots of dogs.  After our goodbyes we drove down the long drive and out onto the dusty road.  Wilf looked in his rear view mirror and told us all to turn around.  There was fat Lesley, the lamb and all the dogs chasing our car down the road.  We laughed all the way home.  They also had a parrot which followed them all around the house like a puppy. 

Bev could never stay awake in a movie.  Within the first five minutes she would be fast asleep.  They would go to the Drive-IN and sleep through the entire movie.  They were woken up by the security guard and found they were the only ones there. 

Dave was called up to do his army training and Bev was devastated.  We all were.  They wrote letters and she cried which made us cry. 

They survived the two years of separation.  Bev went on to work at the bank and Dave continued at the Daily News.  They fought, then broke up, then made up.  I was worried she wouldn’t come back but she always did.  They couldn’t stay apart for long.    

The thing I was happy with was that she was going to be my friend no matter what.  For a change, I had stolen a girlfriend from Dave.

Post 24. Rigby

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Our lives had changed in so many ways. Sue decided that enough was enough and walked out of school just before her matric year.  She got a job at Barclays Bank in town.  She was FREE.  Dave also left school and got a job at the Daily News as an apprentice printer.

Wilf and Val were doing the best they could with their teenage kids.  I’m sure they wished we would just go back and play in the drains.  There were boyfriends and girlfriends and a lot of comings and goings.  Dad didn’t like any of our boyfriends and he made that pretty obvious.

Sue started to come to church with me and things changed big time for her.    We decided we wanted to be baptised.  What a performance there was.  All the christening photos were brought out and we were informed that we had already been baptised.  Thank you very much.  They finally came round and reluctantly agreed that we had no idea what we were doing, all dressed up in our christening gowns.  We could barely see let alone believe.

Well, they came for our baptism. Wilf cried through the whole thing and it wasn’t long after that they were both born again.  Peter joined them and Dave was always somewhere nearby, not wanting to be left out.  We were a happy family once again.

Sue’s old flame, Rigby, was doing his compulsory 2 year army training.  They hadn’t seen each other since they were 16.  A common friend told Rigby that Sue had gone “all religious.”  He wrote to her to find out.  Lindy and I heard he was going to meet Sue, outside her bank, for lunch on Saturday.  He had a weekend pass.  We saw him there way ahead of time and we ran up to tell Sue that he was downstairs.  She told us to stop spying.  Well we didn’t stop.  We watched them from across the road. They walked into the Golden Egg Restaurant at 320 West Street.  It was so romantic.  He went back to finish his training and we didn’t see him for a while.

One day when we were having fun in the pool, Rigby walked up our drive-way in his army uniform.  He looked so handsome.  Dad was still cautious but mum welcomed him with open arms and a toasted avocado sandwich.  There was lots of talk.  I liked him.  He talked a lot about his baby sister Tiffany who he loved to bits and his big sister Vanessa who he didn’t see much.   Their mum died of cancer when Tiffany was three.  He told us about his stepmother and his step sisters.  It sounded like a Grimm’s fairytale to me.

He wanted to know all about our family.  There was lots of talk about our new found faith.  He wanted to know everything.  We happily gave him everything.   I mean everything.  I thought we wouldn’t see him again.  One rainy night on his way back to camp, he cried to God about his wasted life and got a new one.

Whoever would have thought that a chocolate crunchy could have caused all that?

(See- Dad was a D.J)

Post 23. Changes

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Papa and Mom- my grandparents on my mum's side.

Papa and Mom- my grandparents on my mum’s side.

Billy Graham was coming to town!  I had no idea who he was.  I guessed he was a great man because there was a great fuss.  Lindy’s mum had been asked to play the piano for the crusade. She was really excited.  Lindy was going to turn the pages for her so she would also be on the stage.

Somehow I managed to get my whole family there.  Dad literally dragged Sue into the car; almost kicking and screaming.

We arrived at the Billy Graham Crusade with thousands of others.  I was amazed that so many people had come and I wondered if any of my old Sunday school teachers were there.   Papa came with us under a lot of duress.  He was rolling his home made cigarettes and mumbling about a fly that had flown into his eye.  “Of all the thousands of people here, why did it choose my eye?”  There was a lot of complaining coming from Sue and Papa.

From way back in the stadium, Dave and I could see Lindy on the stage. We told Wilf and Val that we needed the toilet and made our way to her. We stood behind the stage messing around and talking to friends.  We didn’t hear a word Billy was saying. Before we knew it, thousands of people started coming towards the stage.  Dave and I were caught up in the crowd.  Two counsellors asked us if we wanted to become followers of Jesus.  We both nodded.  Dave closed his eyes and so did I.  It was a short prayer and I knew what it meant.  I wasn’t sure Dave did.  I was really nervous that he was going to add, “and God bless the Zulu boys.”  We gave the people our address and that was that.

We drove home with such tension in the car.  Dad and Mom couldn’t find us in the crowd and Sue and Papa were really playing up.  Over the next couple of days we found out that each one of us had gone forward at the end of Billy Graham’s preach.

After that night with Billy Graham, one of the first things that changed was my temper.  I was more patient.  Somehow I didn’t want to hurt people with my words anymore.  The fear of fire left me and I was secure, knowing that when I died, I would go to heaven.  I knew then how to answer Lindy. My only answer to God would be, “Because of Jesus.”

Wilf and Val were NOT happy.  Suddenly religion became the main topic for discussion.  During an argument I told them that they needed to be born again otherwise they wouldn’t go to heaven. For the first time in my life, Val slapped me across the face.  “How can you say that?  Don’t you know your father is the superintendent of the Sunday school?  If anyone deserves to go to heaven it would be us.”  I told her I didn’t say it, Jesus did.  From that night on there were to be no religious discussions in the house; especially not at the table.  There was more tension than ever.