Sunday, July 31, 2016

End of July Sunday Funday

Tomorrow is August! Three videos from us this past week:

1. Ana has a really great dad. I could say all these good things about him too!
2. Major shift in thinking that I feel like I need over and over throughout the day--fighting for Justice or against injustice?
3. It is just too heavy to hold everything. It is hard to find a balance sometimes I feel so disconnected when I hold things loosely... 
4. I know I have posted about how Missionaries can't talk about vacations before, but this really is an issue. After showing a video that had pictures of us at the beach, we received some comments...
5. What a cool IDEA!!!!! It is always important to get our kids global: this printable is AWESOME for the Olympics. I am in Brazil and feel guilty I haven't done something Olympic-ish yet. Hum. Thinking...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Funday July

I am learning how to drive. At 33, it is taking all of my cumulative skills to 1. drive a manual (stinkin extra peddle) and 2. drive a manual in Brazil. I only practice on Sunday afternoons, when the streets are pretty clear as everyone is eating/resting/hanging out with family, and only for short amounts of time. I work hard to keep my life as stress-free as possible, but this is HARD. Caid assures me it gets easier and less stressful. Sigh.

But I did find many wonderful things to read today for Sunday Funday, and to share with you:
After getting my computer fixed last week (but loosing ALL my music and videos), we are back at it ("it" being making weekly videos). Above is the update for Living Stones, and below is the update for us Fergies:

Awesome stuff from other people:
1. I love the title--and the article was good too: How you spend can be just as important as how you give. It is so easy to be lazy spenders, even if we work hard to give well. 
2. Reminding me of my heart: from my friend Brittney
3. I can't (and shouldn't) let go of recent big events that churn my heart--another reminder of the importance of dealing with rape culture and "20 Minutes of Action"
4. Already thinking of going "home" (have you watched our above video and heard the news?)
5. I am a rich mom too. 
6. I understand media bias. And most everything I hear from the USA I am careful to filter through and realize we are far away and it is easy to screw with information and all that...but Trump? America...what???? I appreciated this mother's take on it. 
7. THIS IS REALLY COOL. I think I have loved Geography since my mother bought a world map shower curtain for our bathroom. And since I started traveling the world when I was 16 and realized it was big. Mom--you gotta see it:). 

We had awesome VBS's at all three Living Stones programs the past three weeks--and a video is coming soon, as well as an e-newsletter. If you are not getting our Fergie e-newsletters or our Living Stones e-newsletters--they are really simple, beautiful, and keep you up on how to pray--sign up for them at the bottom of our website.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

10 Ways to Bring #Blue and #Black Together

The first interaction I saw with inner city kids and police left me shaken. The police had been called because of a fight near the youth center where I worked. The police came, but by the time they arrived, the perpetrators were gone and only a few people were around. I thanked the police and they left. The kids mumbled.
When I listened closer to what they were saying, I realized it wasn’t about the fight—It was about the police. I was shocked to hear their disrespect and anger to policemen and women they didn’t know, and who had simply come to make sure these kids were protected. I didn’t understand—it didn’t make sense.
I was taught to smile and thank police when I saw them. I was told that being a policewoman was a noble job profession—working to help others. I believed it and I believe it. When one of my friends told me he wanted to be a policeman, I cheered him on and respected him for it.
I lived a different reality than my kids from the inner city. A policeman/woman has never been to my house. Most of the kids first memories include a policeman/woman coming to (or into) their house and taking someone they love: often a father or older brother. I grew up with my mom telling me heroic stories of policemen/women. They grew up hearing their mom cry because the police had taken so and so, because the police had (insert many statements here).
I can look at this and say, “The police were just doing their job.” Which is a true statement. But I can also look at this and say, “What a traumatic experience, seeing loved ones taken and punished from such an early age, without understanding why. How sad for a child to have to grow up so quickly, trying to take care of their mother and others who are bitter and spewing hate from a very hard life.” Which is also a true statement.
Think of the things you were raised to hate (for good reasons or for bad reasons): it is very hard to change those habits. You often don’t even know a reality without that hatred and bitterness. This is what my kids in the inner city face. When I realized that, I felt overwhelmed and without answers.
Whether or not you have seen the realities of inner city life for yourself, they are there, and they are real. The people born there have an uphill struggle that people not born there do not have. They are lacking most, if not all of these structures: family, education, social, economic…These are things they did not choose, just as you did not choose, to be born into.
I do not agree with how my kids from the inner city treated policemen and women: but I understand why they did. I worked hard to show them a better way: through personal friendship and open conversations about police and just about everything else.
Yes, it is their choice to respect or disrespect police. Yes, it is their choice to follow or break the law. Yes, their actions lead to consequences; and no one chooses their own consequences. But yes—the cards are stacked against them in ways those of us outside the inner city don’t understand. And we should be working to understand rather than condemn.

1. To say that someone isn’t hurting when they say they are hurting is unhelpful and untrue. I am #BlueLivesMatter and I believe most all policemen and women are good people who became police to help people and make the world a better place. I also know they are human. When they mess up (because we all mess up), they need to be held accountable for their actions. And most of the time, I believe they are.
2. But having more transparency and honesty and accountability will NEVER be the wrong way to go. And I know all good policemen and women agree with me.
3. More assistance and help is needed in the inner city. It will take at least a generation to undo the effects of poverty—and one of those effects is animosity towards police. If you are #BlueLivesMatter or #BlackLivesMatter, then get yourself into the inner city and start helping. Might I suggest Good News Ministry Youth Center if you live in Indianapolis?
4. Just because another problem is worse doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Black on black violence does not negate police violence. They are both problems, just as Cancer affects many more people than AIDS, but it doesn’t mean that curing AIDS isn’t important. One unnecessary death is too many—end of statement.
5. Face the WHOLE problem. Notice I have said “Inner city,” and not black: because while mostly minority, this is much more of an economic prejudice than just a black prejudice. My kids, while mostly black, were all colors.
6. Here is what I know can lead to change: personal relationships and open conversations. What If a child in the inner city opened their door to a policeman dropping off a Thanksgiving Turkey, rather than coming to take daddy? What if the policewoman let them ride in her car to go to the doctor, rather than to juvenile?
7. We should all be working to keep police and ourselves safe. I didn’t know what do to when stopped—I always forget and get flustered. Respect and caring for others is always the right choice—whether #Black or #Blue or, hopefully, BOTH.
8. Work to have more inner city kids grow up to become policemen and women. Again, personal relationships and having THOSE WE KNOW and love being the ones we talk about is what will bring about true change because it touches our hearts.
9. Realize you don’t have to agree with everything to be #Blue or #Black. I do not stand with police who have treated/treat others wrongly. I also do not stand with #BlackLivesMatter individuals who have treated/treat others wrongly.
10. It is not about hashtags, it is about hearts. Jesus is the answer, because only Jesus can change hearts. Jesus is what will bring hope and change to the inner city. Jesus is what will transform and create opportunities for police and inner city reconciliation.

Note: I am not suggesting this will solve everything, or even anything on either side. There are issues and solutions I have not mentioned or even thought up that are important and valid. I am not writing this to minimalism or stereotype anyone. I still have a lot to learn, and hope to keep learning. 

Communication 101: Farting (or, What I Wished They Told Me Before Getting Married)

I remember the first time my husband, then boyfriend, farted in front of me. He looked sheepish as I looked up, tilted my head to one side, and nasally (breathing through my mouth) said, “Hey, that is the first time you farted around me!” We both laughed and went on with life—but also knew it was an important moment.
This might reveal to you more of our relationship than you wanted to know, but hear me out. If you are not married, then you need to know the truth: Farting happens. To everyone. Eventually. Some people are more gassy than others. And even if you aren’t gassy, you are bound to eat something (or get pregnant) that will make you gassy. If you get married or live in close quarters with someone, farting will be an issue.
I don’t remember this being part of pre-marital counseling (talking about farting), but it should have been. Because when farts happen (and you will be surprised how much of your life will involve farts), you need to have good communication about it—does one partner appreciate an “excuse me” every time, or not care? Is this a big deal or a little deal?
The first time my husband tried to Dutch-oven me I got mad. REALLY mad. Farts are a part of life, but did he have to make me get ALL of it? Why make it worse? But we had established a general rule of good communication, so we stopped and talked about it. Farts. Finally, we got down to the bottom of it when he said, “Rachel, it is extremely embarrassing to me that I am a gassy person. I feel bad that this is something that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. So I feel like the best thing to do is to try to make it funny.”
And then I got it. I explained that “Dutch-oven” and “Funny” do not go along together, but that I understood who he was, accepted it, and would not make him embarrassed about it (except by writing this blog) because that was life. Good thing I did too, because then I got pregnant and became even gassier than he was, and was on the receiving end of that grace.
Farts are a part of life, and giving and receiving grace is a part of a healthy relationship. Something that could have been a daily source of irritation has now been transformed into an understanding and funny (without the Dutch-oven) part of life that draws us even closer to together. Now, on to washing the dishes!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Funday and our Weekly Videos

Sigh. How does vacation leave so quickly? We had a three week break between semesters to catch up, regroup, and charge back into things. It also coincided with the time we would be car-less, so we have had a stay-cation. They never go as planned, do they?
The first week we caught up on things and had Ana's first birthday party--the best party she could ever have--seriously, it was wonderful. The second week Ana decided she didn't like stay-cations and didn't sleep much. At all. Especially at night. So we worked on catching up on sleep. This third week I was very ready to get done everything that never gets done during regular life--and I had the nice long list to prove it...when Monday night, my computer died. kaput. We will find out next week if they can even salvage any information from it (5 years of pictures and paperwork). Sigh.
God knows. But it has been a wonderful time of enjoying each other (snuggling up with Caid and Ana Sofia) and having many good conversations, deep conversations that couldn't have been reached if we were not in a place/time of rest. I am excited to jump into things (VBS for Lagoa was last week, for Guadalajara is this week, and for Cajueiro Claro is next week), and have a smashing second semester.
This week has been a heavy week for America. I have felt the heaviness from here and tried to write about it and process it...
1. This Letter to my Daughter about Race has been my most shared blog post ever (12 shares is a lot to me). This is hitting many people hard. It should hit us all hard.
2. This Saying Yes is written by my amazing friend Brittney, who was my roomie in Brazil in 2011, and just recently brought us peanut butter as she and her husband came to visit. I SO love and respect them! Here is the video they made with us!
3. Another beautiful look/story of adoption
4. There are a lot of questions about how to be a good missionary...including what I can and cannot have. 
5. I will tell you something sad. I posted a video of my daughter (who is black) that said #blacklivesmatter, and got very few likes. My husband posted the same video, but included many hashtags like #alllivesmatter, on, and got MANY likes. I don't care about the likes--I care that so many turn off so quickly when they see #blacklivesmatter. Why? It is something we all need to talk about

6. Just in case that wasn't awkward or controversial enough, let's talk about misogyny in Missions. Another good conversation. I am not sure what I think. I still need to chew on this more. 

God bless! For all of you enjoying some summer vacation (or stay-cation), remember it won't go as planned, and maybe that is best. Or at least--let's find and make the best of it. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Letter to my Daughter About Race

Dear Ana, 
I am really proud of you. I know you are only one year old, but your life is an example, before you even speak. You ARE, and that makes you incredible. You are MINE, and that makes you irreplaceable. 
I know that I was blessed in life so that I can bless others. As a white, middle-class American, I receive and have received many privileges others didn’t. But there are some things I can never do. I can never be.  Some things I will never truly understand: But you can, and you will. 
There will be a time in your life (as in everyone’s life) when you just wish you were normal. And you will never fit in the normal box, wherever you are. You may even get mad at me for the choices I made that made you who you are. You will have to struggle to find where you fit—because no one will tell you where you belong—you have to create that space. 
If anyone tries to tell you that you are “Half” anything, I hope you remember that you are whole—in fact, you are double: black and white. You are triple: Brazilian, American, Jamaican. 
If anyone tries to tell you that you don’t belong here, I hope you remember that you are welcome and loved by people all over the world. That you are an international traveler and scholar. That you are bilingual (please make it more). That your true home is heaven. 
If anyone tries to tell you that you that your hair is bad, I hope you remember all those good times we had together, doing your hair: talking, laughing. The times we would not have had otherwise. The culture and stories behind your hair. 
If someone says you are too dark, tell them to buy a flashlight. If they tell you that you are too light, tell them to wait until summer. If they say you talk funny, say thank you. If they say you are not as important as someone else, tell them that is not true. 
The secret is, darling, that most people aren’t happy with how they are. And it isn’t about color, it is about character. A person unhappy with themselves will be unhappy with others. I feel sorry for them, and hope you can pity then, rather than think their words are true. I hope you can love them past their hurt-hate.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ana is One Year

No one told me that nap times can become "I can't handle you awake anymore" times. No one told me that most of the time I would be a good mother; but most of the REST of the time I would be a good mother because I felt guilty about time where I just wanted to NOT be a mother for a bit.
Shout out to all of my friends who are single mothers: I have no idea how you do it.

But all that said, we've made it through the first year, and really--I like being a mom even more than I thought I would. She is an amazing person who learns and grows and creates and loves life at a rate I can barely keep up with. I really like living life with her and Caid. We are a good team. I love the fact that we are creating "normal" for her--what a cool job.

This week of vlogs was all about Ana, so those of you not baby-oriented, I apologize.
This is Caid's original song for Ana, with highlights of her first year.

Ana's birthday party.

Highlights from this past month, as Ana grows and changes.

Things about Ana Sofia Carol Ferguson:
Favorite Foods: Grapes, Cheese, Fruit Loops
Favorite Books: The ones I can eat
Favorite Words: Daddy
Favorite Song: The ones I can dance to
Favorite Toy: Violet (she says my name)
Favorite Things to Do: Dance, See new things, Color

I have 4 teeth, and while getting them, I have forgotten how to sleep through the night. I don't know how tall or heavy I am, because I am healthy and mom hasn't taken me to the doctor recently. I am a very happy and social kid, and love going to Living Stones with mom and dad. Everyone says I look like daddy, including the tooth gap. I am normally easily distracted away from things I shouldn't have or do, but recently figured out how to take off my diaper: mommy just bought a wooden spoon. I can run around, but like help with steps. Sometimes I will blow you kisses and wave, but don't count on it. Most everyone calls me "Aninha," which means "Little Ana" in Portuguese.