Microsoft does it again…not happy

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I have Office 2007 Ultimate, and yes I know that is an older version but…it came with a free upgrade to Office 2010 and so it has been great. Now, I have a new computer (purchased by work) and loaded my Office 2007 onto the computer (expecting it to upgrade to 2010 as it did last Nov when I reinstalled it on my old laptop). Well it didn’t upgrade. I contacted Microsoft help, and they informed me that they no longer give the free upgrade, even if you had got it before and installed it on an older computer.I queried ‘surely those who purchased a product and got the upgrade should still be able to upgrade if they reinstall the product onto a new machine?’ and their answer ‘Unfortunately that is not how it works’. So, basically you can get a free upgrade (which I see as you now own it) but if you have to reinstall or buy a new computer after their (un notified) cut off date, you will have to purchase the upgrade.

They also said that Windows 10 will only be free for a year, and then you will have to pay for it. So, if you have Windows 10 on a computer and need to reinstall Windows 10 or buy a new computer after the cut off date, you will need to purchase it for your new computer.

Not happy Microsoft, you need to look after your customers and still supply them with the product they had.

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The Great Commission on college campus’: are we supporting it?

‘Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:37-38

College campus ministry, what is it? It means being a staff member on a college campus who shares the gospel with students, trains them in leadership,  teaches the Bible, encourages and supports them, counsels  and guides them.  I got offered a job here in the USA to do this ministry, a ministry I had been doing for a long time back in Australia. (I am excited! I wasnt looking for a job when I came, but God had other plans and I feel so blessed that God has opened this door for me here). But, this is a ministry that desperately needs more staff. In just my area (in a radius of over an hours drive anywhere around me) I am it. In the many, many campus’ around me with the many thousands of students…there are no other staff employed to do this work, the harvest is ready…the workers are absent (you can’t really count me as a ‘few’). So, having been offered the job, the next challenge is support raising. What is support raising? I hear you ask, well it means to raise the finances to fund my wages, expenses, admin etc (and I have to raise them fully if I want to keep doing the ministry) and it also means raising a team of prayers to pray for this ministry.  So, how do you overcome cultural differences to fund a ministry in a country you don’t know? And that wasn’t a rhetorical question.

I was reading an article the other day, about this. It said that many Americans don’t like people asking for financial support…even for ministries, and though this article was written about Americans, I think it is probably true of a lot of countries (now, let me just say, at this point, that though this article may be correct, I have also met wonderful, godly people who give so much to God’s work). If this article is correct, how do you go about getting  prayer and financial support for a ministry, ie campus ministry?  If you don’t ask people, because of some bad reactions, then this robs them of the opportunity to be part of a ministry, in particular this ministry to students.  These are our potential future leaders or as someone once put it…our future.  These students, after college/university, will be reaching places we won’t be travelling to and meeting people we will never meet…all opportunities for the gospel.  If the article is right and people don’t want to be asked, then they are missing out on the opportunity to be involved in a ministry they can’t do themselves…is this what God would want? Is this why there are so few people in this field of ministry here in the USA (and in fact many other places around the world) because they can’t get support that enables them to do the ministry and pay their bills? Is it too easy to say ‘my money goes overseas or to the local church…or whatever”? If people just donated the amount they pay to take their family out (for one night a week) to dinner, it would be a huge help to get people onto campus. Campus ministry is so important, so vital. Especially nowadays when you have students struggling with student life and needing support to stay strong in their faith while on campus, or others needing to be shown what true love is, I mean REAL love, not the sugar coated version that society says is love.  Real love is sharing with someone the most important thing they will ever hear in their life…the gospel.  The one thing that if they chose to accept, will save them from Hell and give them eternal life, to share the gospel is the ultimate gift of love.  At the moment, here in the North West of America, there is a real need for staff to enter this ministry, there is a real need for staff to be on campus.

But don’t get me wrong, as I said earlier, this isn’t just Americans, this mindset towards student ministry is common in other countries too. In Australia I worked with an organisation that had many people working on campus’ around the country and, yet again, many of these workers struggled to get financial support. And for the life of me I can’t understand why. This is an amazing mission field, here in America, as well as Australia, it is one that has been challenged by secular groups on campus’.  These groups try to prevent this ministry and want the ministry staff thrown off the campus. They don’t want the Bible taught to students, or students encouraged in their faith and walk with God…and they DON’T want the gospel shared. We need an army of prayers to surround this ministry and many to financially support it. The battle is on, the devil doesn’t want to see this ministry succeed.  Ultimately, God is in control, the question is…will you step up and be part of His ministry? Will you seek out the workers in your local campus and offer to support them prayerfully and/or financially? Will you support this ministry God has created? Will you partner with the staff in His mission field?

Expats: the exhaustion of culture shock (being an expat teaches you to laugh at yourself – maybe maniacally at times)

I grew up in the UK, lived by the social norms and yes abided by the many, many unwritten rules of our society. I was a Brit through and through (including drinking my tea lol). And then the day came, in 1990, when we emigrated to Australia. Everyone said: you won’t suffer culture shock, it is the same culture and language as the UK…HA! What little did they know. It took me a long time to get used to Australian ways ie of either shortening words or adding ‘ie’ to them (afternoon became arvo, biscuit became bikky, breakfast became brekky – you get the idea). I remember the shock I felt at church on day  (they were announcing the church trip for the following Saturday) when they reminded us to bring our ‘thongs for the beach’ I sat there stunned and shocked and whispered to my husband ‘they remind us to bring our underwear? What type of church have we joined???’ Later someone explained they meant flip flops (ie casual beach shoes). Another time, after my son was invited to a birthday party and we were asked to ‘bring a plate’, I rang the party boy’s mum and offered to bring more crockery if she needed. To which, after she had finished her hysterical laughter, she explained that in Australia ‘bring a plate’ meant to bring a plate of food to share. These are just two of the MANY cultural mistakes I have made, yep being an expat teaches you to laugh at yourself.

And here I am in the USA, another new country…rinse and repeat all over again.

I have been living in the USA, in a rural area, for about a year now. It happened  unexpectedly and wasn’t something that I had been planning. I came here to write a book…then stayed. You would think that I would be prepared for the culture shock, but I wasn’t. I had naively thought America was as portrayed in the media…yes I had watched American TV like ‘Friends’ etc and no, here isn’t like you see on TV or read about in the media. Life is very different to TV programs and media descriptions.  I had been wondering if the city (and city people) would be the America I had read about or seen on TV, because rural life and people were not.  But, my conclusion is that the media never portrays a country, and it’s people, like they really are (Australia wasn’t like ‘Neighbours’ either, the only show I had seen about Australia before I emigrated). One big difference is the place Christianity has in the American society. As I have mentioned before…it doesn’t, not to the extent we all imagined and were told by the media it would have here.

I have gone through the typical cultural shock merry-go-round: You arrive and are in the ‘honeymoon’ period where it is all glossy and new, then the ‘shock’ stage when you stand there and think ‘say what!?!?!? You do what???? Why??’ To things people say, do or you witness. The stage where you can’t believe people do things that way and didn’t they know that isn’t done in other countries…? You feel like an alien plonked on a new planet where they go about their lives in a way that looks the same as your old planet and yet is radically different, words are the same but have different meanings: Trousers (UK term) are not trousers here, they are pants (which is underwear to me 😳). A barbie is a doll here, but a bbq in Australia, ‘bush’ means rural in Australia but it is just a plant here.  Imagine the confusion if I suggested to wear your trousers for a barbie in the bush 😬.  On another note, they love your accent here (what accent? I don’t have one…you all do) but don’t understand your words (see previous comments).  They drive (well kind of) the same but on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.  And you keep questioning ‘why’ and people look at you with that ‘because’ answer, which really isn’t an answer (sorry mum and dad, it never was an answer).  You find yourself thinking ‘this is crazy’, yet to the nationals…it isn’t! And it IS tiring, be prepared for the mental exhaustion of trying to get use to it all. I have found it is easier to just go with the flow of the culture at this stage, and try to push out the negative thoughts that come to mind about them.

Then the peaceful time starts…you go through the ‘settling in’ stage, when you start to accept the differences of your new country. You find yourself relaxing more, not fighting the cultural differences so much and you think you have finally settled in…nope, get that idea out of your head, foolish girl.  Just when you think life is ‘normal’ (whatever that is) when you think you are settling down in the new culture and the worst  of the cultural shock is over, you start back at the ‘shock’ stage, and off we go again on the merry-go-round (milder each time but still tiring). I know this will settle down (it did in Australia), and I keep reminding myself that…it does get better, hang in there.

1st (and definitely the last 😳) time deer hunting for a city girl (the NorthWest USA) 

OK, so let me say this up front…I have never killed anything in my life, nor seen something killed. So, with that confession over (phew I feel better for getting that out) let me describe the first ‘hunt’ I went on, this week.

It all started with a young woman mentioning that she hadnt yet shot her first deer.  My friend has a farm which has many deer visit it each night, so he suggested that she might like to come and hunt there. Welllll hunting really isnt what I would call it lol. The bucks come down the driveway at the same time slot every night, so in essence it was like shooting fish in a barrel. So, the young lady turned up and we sat around on garden chairs for the allocated time slot. And, exactly on time, the bucks made their entrance.  She was using her grandfather’s rifle and when she shot wow did it make a loud sound. So, this far I am doing ok, I was excited for her.

Deer was killed, with a shot through it’s stomach, so took the standard pictures (that all hunters seem to take) you know the ones…hunter kneeling next to his/her kill with gun in one hand and holding up the animal’s head in the other. Then they said we needed to drag the deer over to the barn for the girl to gut it (yep she had not gut a deer before). What! Here? What!?!? You want to gut it and …here?!?!? Yep I was horrified, ok so in my ‘always lived in a city’ innocence I hadnt thought about what happens in hunts. Turns out you have to gut them soon after killing the animal or it ruins the meat…who knew?!? So next task is putting the deer in the back of the truck to drive to the barn.  This light footed deer they moved soo quickly and stealthily when alive became like a dead weight elephant when dead, it took 4 of us to lift it, and even then it was a struggle (can I just point out that no one had mentioned this BEFORE the hunting). So now with our backs thrown out we heading for the barn. At this stage I was thinking, ok…seen enough and time for me to head back to my place…but noooooo, they needed me to go to the house and get some knives while they dragged the deer off of the truck. OK, I can do that, THEN I am going back to my place, and getting out of here (this city girl had seen enough for today).

So, I get the knives, take them to the others and was just about to leave when they asked me to hold a leg. If anyone asks you to do that after a hunt, just say no unless you want to be in the middle of the gutting. Turns out they needed the leg held so they could cut the stomach open…way too much visual for this little vegetarian. So, I turn away until they ask me to hold the torch…why me? because the others are up to their elbows in guts.  It was like being in a butchers: stomach, heart, liver…guts everywhere and we are standing in a pool of blood…ohhh lovely!  (The gutting was a mess because the shot had been to the stomach). Once they have the guts out they then washed the insides of the deer with a hose, which meant more blood (and any lose remains) going everywhere. By this stage I am smiling like a maniac, not because I was happy but because I was in shock and didn’t know what other expression to wear on my face.

Would I do it again, no. Do I have a problem with hunting, no, not when it is done for meat (as this one was) and not just for a trophy.  It was an experience, and it that left this city girl traumatised for the rest of the day, but I am glad the young woman got her deer (just wished I had gone in and had a cup of tea right after it was shot and hid inside till everything had been done lol)

Back in America

I have been in the USA for a few months now, and yet haven’t written a blog :-/ so time for me to do a bit of catch up.  I still have a few blogs to write on places I visited in Europe, yep I promise to write them. But for now, let me share my walk here.

I am staying in a small town (pop below 500 people…hahaha I DID tell you it was small) in Washington State (NorthWest America). Life in the NorthWest is different to the rest of the USA, or so I am told. It is the most Atheist part of the USA, and so I shouldn’t have ben surprised that most churches I have visited were not that full. Yet, it still surprises me that signs about God and Jesus are on the road side (you don’t see that in my home countries of UK and Australia) but even here it is only permitted if the sign is on private land. I had always been under the allusion that America was so Christian (as a lot of my friends thought also), so you can understand my shock and sadness to see that in fact it looks like America has lost it’s first love…God is on the sidelines here, no longer central to American’s life. It seems that fast food and sport has become their central interest (and thus their god). God has been reassigned to the basement, with last years Christmas gifts and other unwanted and forgotten things. What happened to this country? This place that use to love God so much? Yes, the politicians still talk about God and use his name in their speeches…like a password to get elected, but yet the churches aren’t full, people aren’t seeking God and even their Supreme court has approved same sex marriage. 

I have gone through the period, in a new country, of seeing through rose coloured glasses, then the culture shock (more on that later) then reality…and so I ask myself ‘what happened here?’ And is this just a symptom of the loss of faith we are seeing in many western cultures?

Holland: Haarlem

On day 3 i visited a town called Haarlem, this is another pretty town (ok, you are getting the idea lol…Holland is a beautiful place to go and visit). The history of Holland is worth reading up on. This town was occupied by the Germans during World War II, and so has a story to tell. To learn a bit of it’s history we visited a house /museum at Barteljorisstraat 19, 2011 RA Haarlem called the Corrie Ten Boom House. This was originally a watch shop and home (the home is attached behind and above the shop) that was lived in by Corrie Ten Boom and her family. She was a Dutch Christian who, along with other family members, helped Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. Her family  acted as a ‘safe house’ and refuge for Jews during the occupation. A secret room was built in Corrie’s bedroom to hide the Jews in.  It was small (no wider than a young man’s shoulders and long enough to hold 6 people (cramped). A buzzer was also installed to alert everyone of danger.  Hundreds of Jewish people were saved by this family.  Ultimately, Corrie and her family were arrested after being betrayed by a fellow Dutch countryman.  The day they were arrested Corrie had been ill and was in bed.  The man who betrayed them came to the house seeking help from her family to get his wife released (whom he said had been arrested). He said he needed money and knew that they helped Jews, so could they help him.  He was sent upstairs to see Corrie.  Though she said there was something odd about the man’s eyes, she offered to help. He left the house and later the Nazis came to the house.  Fortunately Corrie and her family had enough time to hide the Jews who were in the house, in the secret room.  The Nazis came, arrested Corrie and her family and searched the house for the Jews, but didn’t find the hiding place (which was behind a solid wall with access via a linen closet). The family were taken to concentration camps and all died except for Corrie. (The 6 Jews, who were hiding in the house, were later rescued by the Resistance 3 days later).  Corrie was released unexpectedly soon after her sister died (10 months after they were arrested) and just before the Nazis made a new rule of sending all women over 45 years to the gas chamber (Corrie was 50 years old). As a Christian Corrie could see God’s hand in all that happened and, while her sister was alive, was continually reminded by her sister that Jesus is Victor (they had a plaque on the wall in their house that reminded them of this as they grew up) and that one day they would tell the world their story and what God had done for them during this time. As i mentioned, only Corrie survived but she spent the rest of her life travelling around the world and sharing her story of Jesus’ victory. This is a great place to visit, you will see the small space the Jews hid in and also have a tour of the home.  Entry and tour is free and the tour lasts about an hour.  You will find the entry to the house behind the watch shop, be there early as they only let in 20 people at a time for a tour.
   

     The plaque translated as ‘Jesus is Victor’

The rest of my time in Haarlem was spent looking at shops etc.  went into my first Lush store (lol ok this information is probably only for you female readers), great place and the prices are considerably cheaper than in America.