Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Mango Tree

When we moved into our house, towards the end of last year, the landlord took us through each room, as well as outdoors, explaining everything he thought we might need to know.
Upon seeing a huge tree, propped up and hovering over the driveway – and dropping lots of leaves- we asked him what type of tree it was. He replied that it was a mango tree, and added that he thought it bore fruit for many months of the year. To say that we were excited at the thought of having an abundance of juicy, sweet mangoes was an understatement!! 

In the months that followed, as we swept those piles of falling leaves each day, we waited expectantly for the tree’s first sign of fruit.

Month after month we waited… until May this year when we suddenly started to spot them, high up on the branches, far from our reach. A few mangoes did eventually fall from the tree but, when they did, they were over-ripe or had evidence that a squirrel or two had already sampled them. 
My husband, not to be outdone by the squirrels, climbed up onto the carport roof with a makeshift, net-fruit-picker and recruited the rest of us to be ‘catchers’ down below. 

Waiting on the ground to seize the mangoes as they catapulted though the air from up high, we filled our buckets and baskets to overflowing. The warm temperature inside our house was the perfect climate to ripen the mangoes and 1-2 days after picking, they reached… perfection! We ate mango after mango, gave away mangoes and had enough to cut up and freeze as well.
The same week we hit the “mango jackpot”, my daughter discovered that the papaya tree in the backyard also had fruit ready to pick. So she decided to start making som-tum (green papaya salad). She’d leant how to make it at school and generously, kept offering to make it for lunch or dinner for our family. 
We all enjoyed eating as much as she would make us. It was so delicious.  One night after filling up on som-tum and our homegrown mangoes, I sent a message to a friend with a food photo saying: 

Then it hit me. The sudden realisation that here I was, relishing in the juicy fruits of two trees that I didn’t plant, nor had I watered when they were just sprouts in the ground, or pruned as saplings. In fact I hadn’t done any ‘work’ at all, well… except for sweeping all those leaves!!

Suddenly I began to wonder how many years ago those trees had been planted. Who had cared for them all this time? Who had helped them grow to maturity and strength, able to produce fruit and withstand the various weather elements?

And whilst I will probably never find out the answers to those questions, I suddenly saw a connection between that mango tree and ‘prayer’. Hear me out!
Sometimes we pray for people, healing, or for seemingly impossible situations to turn around, but we don’t see the answer until much, much later. Have you ever prayed about something but it took years until you saw it resolved?

Just like we were enjoying the fruit off a tree that we didn’t plant or care for, I realised that I was eating “answered prayer”… okay that sounds weird! 
What I mean is that, if prayer is like planting a seed, then continuing to pray is like watering it and receiving the answer is like eating the fruit. 
When it comes to big prayers like rescuing children from child trafficking or ending modern day slavery, although we hope to, we might never actually see the answer in our lifetime… but we can be the ones planting the tiny seeds. Let's continue to plant seeds and pray big, expectant prayers!

*During our 6 week trip back to Australia, we got to see many answers to prayers, but we also got to “plant” a lot of seeds too. You can read more about our trip back, here.

Oh... and this was our little dog, just before we moved house - helping me pack!!! 😒😊

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Cross Communication

My friend commented that it had been a long time since I had blogged here. It's true. She's right. But I haven't stopped writing. For work I write and I am also working on a second book which is taking me longer than I'd hoped. But I do apologise for the lack of 'Cross Family' updates.

I know, the title 'Cross Communication' could sound a bit like cross contamination but please don't go away and start washing your hands or sterilising your bench tops, let me assure you there should be no harmful effects caused by reading this post.

I love this picture above - the cactus flower. It depicts the way that prickly and beautiful share the same space. It's that idea that our imperfections... our mess... our rough edges, do not have to inhibit us from a beautiful life. Our family relationships, along with the amazing friendships we've formed over here, despite the prickles and pain are lovely and lasting reminders that indeed prickly and beautiful can coexist.

The first few months of this year were hard. I'll be honest.
The lowlight was that at the beginning of the year, our daughter slipped and fell down a curb and twisted her leg backwards. She was instantly in a lot of pain and many people came out of shops etc to try to help us as she had landed in a dangerous spot on the corner of a road. I am so grateful that at that time there was not much traffic and for the people who came to try to help us. Thankfully my husband Dave was able to bring the car quickly and pick us up within a few minutes.  After many hours in the ER, the x-rays showed that she had broken her leg and foot in 3 different places.

My reflections of this painful time in my daughter's life and her own personal journal entries will hopefully bring encouragement and comfort to others in future in a time of need (but that's a different post).

The highlight of the month was that we celebrated being in Thailand 9 years! Despite the broken leg, we were determined to acknowledge and commemorate the anniversary so we went out to eat, taking a guest we had in town along with us.
On arrival at the restaurant we bumped into a friend who we work with. Unbeknownst to us as we ate, she went to the front desk and paid for our entire meal, leaving us this note to find at the end. So sweet!!!

6 weeks, after the accident, our daughter had a scheduled check up. We all had a bit of a shock though when the doctor said she still couldn't put any weight on her leg for another 3-4 months at least!!  We were all thinking she'd be able to manage starting to walk with the orthopaedic boot but the recovery process was going much slower than we had imagined. She was pretty shattered by the news but we focused on finding many things to be thankful for.  We were praying for her spirits to remain hopeful for healing and to continue to see God's hand on her situation.
Busy with school and sport. Both our boys played soccer at school this year and they enjoy different activities on the weekend including Drama and basketball.
But the highlight though, this month we celebrated 20 years of marriage! (One of our kids took this photo)
Our daughter had an opportunity to represent her school at the National History Day, South Asia Regional competition, held in Singapore. She received a scholarship from her school which paid all the expenses. Her and I travelled to the competition from March 7-10th.  And yes, I ate a LOT of char kway teow!!!


On the other hand, let's just say the boys, who remained home, have never eaten so many nachos or ever been allowed to play quite so much Play Station as they did that weekend!!

The lowlight of March was the pollution which reached hazardous levels. School was cancelled several times. Even the school play Wind in the Willows, which our daughter was in, had to cancel performances and eventually the school decided to end for the April school holidays earlier than intended. We did a lot of staying indoors and wearing masks.

The highlight this month was having my parents arrive at the end of the month to visit us. Although we spent a great deal of the time indoors playing games and enjoying meals together, we did also get out to a couple of natural hot springs, a waterfall, prayer labyrinth, bowling, a movie and they even spoilt the boys one night with an hour at the trampolining park. All in all it was a special time together with lots of time to talk, laugh and share life together - which we never take for granted!

During April the kids were on school holidays for two weeks. We minded our friend's little poodle which is always fun for us all and we had the chance to rest up before the busyness of the final term of school here. I also started back studying Thai after a somewhat-longer-than-expected break. It's been good to get back into it, have a laugh and learn some new vocabulary.

The highlight of April was that our daughter was told that she could begin to walk again. It was slow progress at first but bit by bit she is getting stronger every day. She has started physiotherapy which is helping her to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the broken bones but also to correct some walking style issues that have developed as a result of the ankle still being swollen and sprained from the fall. We praise God though that she is improving and will be able to gain full strength over time.

The children have been busy with assignments due, test taking and learning lines before the end of the month. The older 2 are in a musical which will be performed at a local theatre in a couple of weeks. We can't wait to see the show. They've been rehearsing for many months now. 

Counting down till school's out... only 17 more days I think but we have mixed emotions as we say goodbye to several friends who will be leaving Thailand for good over the next few weeks.

Well it's not June yet... but our family will be back in Australia in mid June and excited to catch up with friends, supporters and of course our families.

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