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All So Different

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First night in Australia and the differences are just worlds a part.

From rubbish, dirt, noise and serious dysfunction at so many levels, to clean, quite and ordered. In one world I am awake by 5:30 every day and the sun is well and truly up, it’s hot and the heat is beginning to build, in my other world it’s 6am, the world is still dark and outside is covered in thick fog, with dew all other the ground and it’s freezing cold.

In one world rain makes the grass so bright and green, everything looks fresh, in the other there is no grass and rain just makes mud and floods.

In one world I wake to crying or screaming children, with my few little poor children who come for breakfast almost every morning at my house, in the other world Mr 15 months (so confident and so able) crawls into bed with us at 5am and Mr 5 wanders in for a cuddle at 6.

In one world the neighbours constantly yell and fight, in the other I will never hear my neighbours and rarely even see them.

In one world Mr 15 months can walk, run (sort of), climb up onto chairs, throw balls, open books, point at things, knows what videos he likes, can dance, has touch screen devices all around him (which he is still a bit rough with) and already has a number of words because his environment stimulates development from a very early age, in the other world 15 months is just a baby, doing baby things. He probably won’t touch a computer until about 10 years old and it will be mostly for games.

One world is full of books, colours, endless interactive toys, things to both engage and stimulate thought and development, the other world has none of those things, or it has none of those things being deliberately provided by adults specifically for the children, the world around them will provide very different interests for them.

Both world are equally wasteful in very different ways.

In one world people just throw rubbish literally everywhere, in the other you must wash your rubbish and put it in the right trash bin, or else you will get fined.

We get the next 10 days with 4 of the 9 grand children, they will eat as much as they want, when they want, they will get three meals a day, every day, the house always has food, they will never actually run out. Fruit and veg are part of the normal daily diet, along with all the normal junk food, which is given in measured amounts (at least when we are here with them). In the other world, some of the children will eat three times today, many will eat twice or once, there will be very little fruit or veg, but in a very unusual contrast, in this world, the children will have junk food almost all day long in the form of very cheap 1 peso snacks. Interestingly enough, the poor children in one world will have a far higher percentage of snacks and junk food in their diet than in the more affluent world.

One world is in a city of only 1.3 million (Adelaide, South Australia), the other is the 7th largest city in the world, with well over 14 million people in only 44 square km’s, making it the most densely populated city in the world (Manila, Philippines). In one world it can often take multiple hours to travel 10 km’s, the other world is incredibly easy and efficient to move around in.

In one world two very attentive grandparents will be actively engaged in the daily activities of the children, in the other children will often wander around in the community parenting themselves from as early as 2 years of age, with a very basic parental presence in the early morning and then at night, before and after work. In one world older children actually raise the younger ones, in the other world that would be considered as serious child abuse.

The differences are literally worlds apart, so very different in every respect. Where we get to start in life definitely determines a lot of the potential future outcomes.

One world is very comfort based, the other is all about the base needs of life.

One world is very Jesus centred, the other is most definitely not.

Both worlds are full of very needy people. In many ways the needs are very different, but also all the same. In one world the needs are all very much in your face, the other world tries to hide it’s needs behind affluence and things.

It’s all very interesting.

The good thing is that we do now “fit” to varying degrees, in both worlds and in both worlds we get to have an impact and can contribute some thing meaningful with those that we interact with.

Making disciples is not determined by the location, but by the attitude of the “discipler”.

I often think that we live a crazy life, but we only get one, so live it we must.

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