Monday, May 08, 2006

This week's blog - or is that - last week's blog?

Hi there,


Well I’ve mulled it over and scratched my head, but this week’s blog does not seem to come to me quite like they normally do. So let me start by sharing a bit of personal news. No nothing earth shattering or exciting I’m afraid, but news all the same:


I am working on this huge assignment – one of the biggest I have ever had to do – all about Children who, (to use the currently politically correct phraseology) experience barriers to learning. For people who might not understand, this refers to children who were previously regarded as having disabilities, or experiencing learning difficulties. One of the things that make this such a complicated task is that I have to use the politically correct terminology, and it is so easy to slip into the old way of saying things.


The other bit of news that I have this week is that I managed to finish another assignment that I have been finding very interesting to write. It has taken me three weeks to get it done, (a lot longer than I usually take for an assignment (thought that is usually because I start writing it too late and I am sitting up through the night desperately trying to finish the assignment by the due date and then praying that the Internet will work properly so that I can submit it online.  This year I have resolved to take a different approach. I really have no excuse to run behind at the moment, because unlike previous years, I have not had to work full time as well. The assignment I have just finished was about HIV/AIDS. I thought I was quite knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS until I started doing the research for the assignment and found that I did not know as much as I thought I knew. I had a superficial knowledge. I knew enough, I suppose, to avoid becoming infected. (If you don’t know, or are not sure about the risks of HIV/AIDS – please write to me – I will treat your email as confidential and I will happily discuss this subject with anyone – I will treat your questions with confidentiality.) I didn’t really understand though, how the virus attacked the immune system and how the immune system is ‘used’ by the virus to replicate itself and invade the whole body. It was an eye opening experience. I also dealt with the sensitive topic of helping children who are grieving due to the death of a loved one. Again, there were things that I thought I knew about certain cultures but discussion showed me that I did not know. In particular, I had written something about what Jews believe about the afterlife. I thought that they, like Christians, believe in heaven and hell. Apparently I was wrong. According to my Jewish cousins, Jews believe in “the next world” where everyone’s soul goes after a period of cleansing. Thank you to those who put me right on that. I wouldn’t like to ride roughshod over a child’s beliefs especially at a time of grief.


I went last week to a combined home group meeting of our Church – we had a stir-fry supper, and a time of sharing. They introduced the time of sharing with words to this effect – “Everyone has to share something romantic – I hope you are prepared.” Well – I thought to myself, that is going to be difficult because I have no personal experience of that yet.” However, I soon realised that I did not have to talk about something romantic – I could also share a “God – moment”  or some testimony – now that’s a different story as I abound with personal experiences of God’s intervening hand. I decided to share on two things (these may be news to a few of you readers too)


I told them that when I decided that the move south was necessary, the hardest part of leaving Harare was saying goodbye to the fellowship I belonged to – Harvest Christian Fellowship. While I knew that I would be able to stay in touch, I would not be seeing them from one week to the next. (Now while distance does make the heart grow fonder), I realised that I would be needing to find a new spiritual home. I shared with the home groups how special the people of Harvest were to me and shared specific examples of how Harvesters helped me along the way – in very real and practical matters which I won’t go into here. It was a wrench, and I left a little piece of me in Harare, I am sure. Well for those of you who are not harvesters, Harvest meets in Gateway High School hall, and the official name is Harvest Christian Fellowship. I came down to South Africa, and I wanted to find a fellowship that I could become a part of it. I spoke to Malcolm and Karen and asked them if I could go to their fellowship and of course they were more than happy to take me along. The fellowship they belong to is called Hilton Christian Fellowship. The meet at Laddsworth School hall. But the similarities don’t stop there. This fellowship is also populated with wonderful, caring people who take an interest in you and are ready to share and help wherever they can. I have joined a home group as referred to before in my blog and next Sunday I am going to be helping Craig with children’s ministry.


The second part of my testimony is what may be news to quite a number of you. I have delayed talking about this until I had a better grasp of the situation myself. Not long after I got down here, I was sitting working at the computer and my watch alarm went off. Now, although it was on my wrist, and everyone else heard it, I did not. My brother, who happens to be a doctor, said that I should get my hearing tested, and it was confirmed that I had significant hearing loss in my right ear. I have been consulting with an ENT and he tested and conformed that there is a hearing problem, but at this stage, we are adopting a wait and see approach. I discussed with the doctor whether a hearing aid would be required and he said that it was up to me, and that if I did not feel particularly disabled without one, I shouldn’t worry. I reflected on it, and have come to the conclusion that since I am now aware that I have a hearing problem, I am actually better off than before when the problem existed, but I was not aware of it. I have decided that I do not need a hearing aid as I can cope without one. If that situation changes, I will think about the hearing aid again. The doctor wants me to have an MRI. We are doing a wait and see on that too. In about 4 months I will have another audiologist test me, and if the situation has deteriorated, then I will have an MRI just to eliminate the possibility of a cyst or a tumour pressing on my cochlea. In the mean time, I am not going to worry. The likelihood is that this hearing problem is linked to my hypothyroidism. I didn’t know before, but I have since learnt that there is a high correlation between children with hypothyroidism and deafness. Which brings me to the point I shared at the home group meeting – I praise God that as a child growing up I had the ability to hear, and to develop language. Yes I had physical struggles as a result of my thyroid hormone deficiency, such as fine and gross motor co-ordination, but I could hear and though I was slightly delayed in learning to talk (so I am told) I did learn. Now, even if my hearing deteriorates completely, I have heard and I can continue and can cope. I obviously hope that it does not deteriorate, and am praying and asking the Lord to heal me in this regard, I am at peace about the whole situation and will accept this as from the Lord and will ask him to give me the grace to bear it with courage. Which brings me back to my comments above about politically correct terminology. Apparently you are not supposed to refer to people as deaf as this will result in stigmatization (ridiculous I know!), but instead people are “hearing impaired.” While I quite accept that the old “deaf and dumb” label can be regarded as offensive, and the preferred term was “deaf mute” and that some silly people regarded people who were deaf as being of lesser intelligence than hearing people (Now is that stupid or what?) when I was at St Giles, a school for the physically handicapped, I was taught that “disability does not mean inability.” Something I have held onto all my life. Because of my life experiences, and the fact that I am now studying education, I believe God is preparing me to work with disabled children, probably on the mission field.   


1529 words already and so I will finish with that bit of news. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon and give you His Shalom (peace).



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