Old Mr. Rios

200908301644.jpg

Only a few blocks from my destination, I notice an old man hobbling along the footpath. His slow speed and awkwardness creates an obstacle for the handful of people who are out today, and they all detour around him so as to continue on their way. As I approached him, he looked up at me and asked if I had any money to give him so he could buy a pizza for lunch. This was not your normal person begging on the streets. Here was an old man, leaning on a cane and dressed in an old suit from yesteryear…

Continue reading “Old Mr. Rios”

The Best Way To Wake Up

Waves

The sweet harmony of crashing waves slowly ease their way through into my consciousness. I spin on the bed, trying to coax another half an hour’s rest from the already stifling hot day. The early sun’s rays have heated the canvas annex to the point of a sauna and beads of sweat are starting to run off my body.

“Just a little more…” I think to myself casting off even the smallest corner of the sheet which had been touching me in the vain hope that it would cool me off.

Ten minutes later, after tossing and turning and trying to force myself back into the bliss of sleep, the war against the ever increasing heat off the sun is lost.

Continue reading “The Best Way To Wake Up”

Movies and Music

I have just finished watching a movie where the guy gets the girl amidst formidable odds and everybody lives happily ever after.

It was a great movie, but inevitably, at the end of the film we must return to reality. I do not know about you, but my reality is normally far from what I have just seen and experienced on that big screen. To compare myself with the (contrived) reality that is in the movie, there is little in common. The beauty, the excitement, the lifestyle, all so very different. Then there is that amazing ability to skip through all of the boring parts of life and only live the interesting bits.

movies

Something that struck me recently is how the lives of the actors are always immersed in music. Music for when they are sad. Music for when they are happy. Music for when they are in love. Even for when they are scared. It was this that got me thinking about music, mp3 players, and the pervasiveness of music.

Everywhere I go people have music plugged into their ears. Huge ear muffs to tiny earbuds, from the car to the train station, while working or playing, studying or sleeping, even during conversations. Music has pervaded our society in every area. Piped music, personal music, radio stations, mtv, concerts. Music is everywhere these days.

This is where I started to see it. Is it any wonder, if we have all been feeding on these movies now for years, where there is music that suits every situation that the actor goes through, that there would be an increased number of people wandering around the streets with headphones stuck on or in their ears? Walking about while listening to music creates a feeling of energy, of motivation, of everything turning out well in the end. It creates your own movie where you are the main actor.

Doing Business in South America

At the end of last year a survey came out about the processes and costs needed to start a business in over 150 countries. Run by the World Bank Group and the International Finance Corporation, their Doing Business website revealed that the best six places to start a business were:

1. New Zealand
2. Singapore
3. United States
4. Canada
5. Norway
6. Australia

Out of all of those countries, South America did not do so well:

25. Chile
77. Argentina
88. Paraguay
119. Brazil

In Argentina, it takes 32 days and 15 procedures to start a business at a cost rating of 13% of the average person’s gross annual income. In Brazil it you need to go through 17 procedures, wait 152 days, and pay 10% of your annual wage. Back home in Australia it only takes 2 days and 2 procedures and costs 1.9%.

There is a lot more information beyond this, although all business related. It includes things like taxes, licenses, enforcing contracts, trading across borders and many other areas. It certainly reveals a lot about the bureaucracy of each country.

This information is old news for those who follow it, but in looking over it once again, I can now start to appreciate why it is taking so long for me to sort out all of the paperwork with my newly acquired motorbike. After all, if it takes that much effort to do business here, then why should I expect less for changing owners on an old motorbike.

Reminders of Where I Am

It has been almost 2 years now that I have been living in Argentina and although life has changed a little from what it was in Australia and New Zealand, it is also very similar in many ways. Sometimes I simply forget where I am.

A friend of mine told of how they try to think of themselves and where they are on the map just to remind themselves of where they really are. Sometimes living in a place seems so normal and yet compared to where we came from it is very different indeed. I find myself in this situation at times.

a family on a motorbike
A complete family traveling on motorbike.

Living here in Argentina there is a lot to compare with home. After all, we have Internet, cell phones, and trucks and cars and bikes. Our bus transport here is better than pretty much anywhere else that I have visited in the world, and most products are available here. They may not be the latest or greatest and you may have to pay a premium price, but they are available.

So there are times when I wander down the street oblivious to where I really am. The clean streets on the newly formed pedestrian mall, lined by large chain stores with big plate glass windows displaying all of their wonderful goods keeps me lulled into thinking that not much has changed between where I was and where I now am.

The Reminders
But then I turn around and see two women dressed in rags, towing in a slow methodical march, a bicycle-wheeled home-made trailer filled with brooms and sporting a small child barely big enough to reach over the top of the two foot sides. They look neither to the left nor the right, but continue forward in their march, exhaustion lining their deeply marked and prematurely aged faces. And I remember where I am.

child in horse and cart
Children looking for paper and rubbish to collect.

Or while traveling on the bus a young child no more than 7 years old climbs aboard and starts handing out little cards with cute messages for lovers. They have no price, only that he would receive a donation if you want to keep them, something that would help to feed him and his many brothers and sisters back at home, wherever that may be. His forlorn face shows the wear of many years working already, even at such a tender age.

Or if I am at an outside restaurant, a small hand reaches up from the side of the table. It belongs to a child even younger still, begging for a coin or two that may be able to buy what he and his family need for the next meal. I can see his older sister working one of the other tables, trying to get around as many as they can before the waiters can “shoo” them away like unwanted animals.

The trucks and cars that pass by, so old and so worn as to hardly be able to keep going. The motorbikes filled up with 2 adults and their 3 children because their parents cannot afford a car. The bicycles that squeak and groan past, ladened with tools and timber, people and parcels, because they are the only transport available. The trucks filled with people in the back tray, trying to get as many as possible in the one journey.

bicycles carrying goods
Riders carrying what they need on their bikes.

These are just some of the reminders. They do not come every day, but they are there to remind me that where I am is very different to where I was. They remind me of the hurt and pain that still exists so strongly in this country, of the unhealed wounds that have found no medicine. They remind me that even though there are many things that are good and getting better in this country, there are many things that must still be addressed and confronted.

They remind me of Argentina, a beautiful country with a terrible past.

truck load of people
A truck loaded with workers heads back home.

grandma on the back of a bike
A grandmother traveling with her daughter.

crowded onto a truck
On the way to a meeting.

horse and cart vendor
Local horse and cart guy selling various goods.

really old car
A very old car still in use on the roads in the city.

 

People’s Attitudes to Other People’s Stuff

One of the things that really gets on my nerves is other people not caring about stuff that is not theirs. Here, in South America where money seems to be in such short supply, you would expect that people would be extremely careful with stuff that was not theirs because they could not afford to repair or replace it. This is certainly not the case that I have found.

The only times that I have seen people respecting the property of others it has been so different to the average attitude that it has stood out in a very obvious way. These people are different. Most of them however, seem to not give a damn. Literally.

One example is that when you loan stuff to most people, it never seems to come back. I am not talking about me only here. Each time I mention it to other people they smile and say that it happens the same way to them too. Each time I have had to go to that person and ask for that particular item of mine which they still have, following them to their house to retrieve it. It seems to be the expected, and accepted behaviour here.

Another is in the renting of movies and borrowing of commerical items. Today, I found three DVDs that have been sitting on the table since Saturday night… when they were rented for just one night. Today is Wednesday. I saw them there on Monday and told the person responsible, to which he nonchalantly replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot about them.”

These DVDs were still sitting there unreturned today. Finding this guy once again, I told him about them. His reply, “Oh yeah, I forgot.” There was no look of concern on his face, no indication of guilt, no care for the possible fees that are amounting… which he has no way of paying, and no concern that the store would be losing possible revenue. None of it appeared important to him. Water off a ducks back.

This is not an isolated incident. Many times people return these sorts of things late, if at all. In my experience they rarely return things at all. What is it that gives these people, and I am talking about those who struggle to get by on what meagre amounts of money they have, such an attitude towards stuff that is not theirs?

I am stunned by this attitude people have here towards other people’s stuff.

What is GroovyGuppy?

What is GroovyGuppy.com?
GroovyGuppy.com is a private website run by one guy. Its main purpose for existing started out being just as a means to communicate with friends and family around the world.

In the process of being established, there were many new thoughts about what it could contain and what purposes it could serve. As a result, the whole idea has evolved to include a members section providing friends with access to more directed information, a section on stories and thoughts that anyone is welcome to read through, and an image gallery to show anyone that is interested some of the places travelled and seen.

GroovyGuppy.com is not a novel idea. It was inspired by two friends and their own websites. One of which has now been running for years.

But first, let me introduce myself. I am Rob and I was living in Australia when I started this. Where I am now is anyones guess. You see, I am a Christian who believes fervently in God. When God tells me to go somewhere then I go. No hesitation. He asked me to go to New Zealand some years ago so I did. Having lived there for four years God then told me to go to Argentina. That is where I am heading now. Where next, literally, only God knows.

I could talk about God for ages, but there is another place on this site for that. Now, about the website.

Brodie, my brother, started up Jellycan.com so he could share his photos and adventures with family and friends. At the time he was living in Italy or Germany I believe and this was a good way to be able to catch up. After that he moved to Japan and has taken up adventure racing. As a result his website contains all sorts of photos pertaining to that. This was the primary inspiration for my site.

A friend of Brodie’s started up a weblog using CamelFish.com and I liked the name. As a result a search was started to find a name that was clever and memorable. With the help of one of my creative thinking friends, John, we finally came up with the name of GroovyGuppy.com and it stuck.

Having nothing to do with fish it may seem an odd name. But when you consider some of the sites out there then it makes as much sense as any other. After all, Amazon.com has nothing to do with forests (unless you count the paper the books are printed on), Apple.com does not relate to fruit, and Canon.com has nothing to do with war (although the name is spelt differently to cannon).

So that is the why and how of GroovyGuppy.com. If you have any questions, or would like comment on anything in this site, then feel free to contact me.

Looking at True Riches

Jim Baker (on video) teaching students at a bible college in the United States started teaching on Revelations but was sidetracked down this issue of True Riches. What follows is my brief notes on what he had to say, based entirely out of scriptures in the Bible.

1 Cor 13:1-13
(1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and or angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (2) and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

(4) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(8) Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. (9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. (10) But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (11) When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (12) For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

(13) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It is not by works, it is our relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

John 12:24
Unless a [seed] falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone;

That’s why we are lonely… You have to die daily!

Matt 16:24
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Mark 10:17-25
(17) Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (18) So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (19) You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” (20) And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” (21) Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (22) But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (23) Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (24) And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! (25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I used to teach that the eye of the needle was a gate in Jerusalem that was so low the camels had to kneel down and crawl under. That is not true. The eye of the needle is just that. Anything is possible with God.

Mark 4:19
…and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

People are following teaching that itches their ears.

Luke 1:53
He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.

Luke 6:24
But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.

Luke 8:14
Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

Luke 12:15
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Luke 14:33
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Luke 16:19-25
(19) “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. (20) But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, (21) desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. (22) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (24) Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ (25) But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

Everytime there’s a bad guy it seems to be a rich man.

Luke 19:2
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.

Luke 21:1-4
(1) And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, (2) and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. (3) So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; (4) for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 are often quoted and well loved. An interesting omission from them is that they do not mention anything about “things” or money. There is no “blessed are you if you have lots of money”.

Matthew 5:1-12
(1) And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. (2) Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

(3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (4) Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (5) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. (6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. (7) Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. (8) Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (9) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. (10) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Watch out for a different Jesus or Gospel or Spirit.

2 Cor 11:4
For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!

The phrase “you may well put up with it” is in effect saying “you may as well put up with it”. This is made clearer in verse 20 where it says, “For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.”

Galatians 1:6-9
(6) I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, (7) which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Matthew 4:4
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “

A misused verse
Some have used 3 John 1:2 as a verse to indicate that God wants us to prosper financially. Here John writes that we may prosper in all things. The word “prosper” here is Euodoo in the Greek. This comes from Eu which means good or well, and Hodos which means road, progress and/or journey. So this combined word means, to be in good health on your journey. This is highlighted by reading the same word translated in Romans 1:10 as “find a way”.

3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Rom 1:10
making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

1 Tim 6:5-12

Lk 15:12 Prodigal son – “give me!” (proverbs)

Act 8:15 give me!

Ps 106:15

2 Kings 5:1-27 Naaman seeks healing from Leprosy

We must seek God – not man. Jesus – not miracles.

Ezek 34:1-10

1 Tim 3:1-8

Vision: Cattle herded without any skin on them. Raw and bleeding they walked past. God said that this is His church, this is what has been done to them.

Tit 1:10-11

——

Long horn sermons – a point here, a point there and a lot of bull inbetween.

A Brief History on Jim Baker
Convicted of crimes while running a huge evangelistic ministry, Jim Baker spent a number of years in jail. It was during this time that he came to realise this was not God’s punishment but rather His mercy.

These years were the sweetest years of his life, says Jim. He wrote down everything that Jesus spoke in the Bible, abbreviating it into short sentences that still conveyed the main theme of the passage where possible, and then memorised it all. “It was only then that I began to realise just how wrong I was.” It was during these years that he came to realise just how wrong he was, how wrong his teachings on financial prosperity were, and how shallow his relationship was with God. During these years he came to know God in a completely new way.

When I saw Jim Baker on the video he was a different man, a broken man. He presented only the Bible and stayed away from teaching on his ideas or thoughts. He was passionate only about one thing, and that was for people to know God more.

Quotes to make you think

While travelling around the web I ran into a few quotes that I thought were interesting enough to save because they make you think:

  • Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words. – St. Francis of Assisi
  • Is god willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god? – Epicurus (341-270 BCE)
  • There are two kinds of people: those who say to God: Thy will be done, and those to whom God says: All right, then, have it your way. – C.S. Lewis
  • When you speak of heaven, let your face light up; let it be irradiated by a heavenly gleam; let your eyes shine with reflected glory. But when you speak of hell, your ordinary expression will do. – Charles Spurgeon

The Learning Process

At times you may find that there is something in your life that has to change but it seems like it is taking forever to actually change it. “I still do the same thing”, you exclaim! “When am I ever going to change?”

Good news… you are already changing. It is just that you are in the middle of it and not at the end.

What is the problem…
For many of us, we look to the end result to determine if we have changed. This tells us if the fruits of our efforts are worthwhile or not. Sometimes we give up because the same problem we wanted to change is still with us.

The problem here is that we hope that change will be instantaneous. We do not want to go through the long process that brings about lasting change. It may be because we do not recognise the steps in the process by which we can mark our way through it and so we become disheartened and give up. It could also be because it is hard work to change. This becomes too much for us to keep going, so we go back to our old ways. Not because they are better, but because they are easier.

We want to ensure that our attempts at change are successful. To do this we need to know the steps of change. Using these we can then guage our position in the process of change. So what are these steps?

The steps of change
Whenever you break a habit, or change something that you have been doing for a while, there is a process that you will go through. The good news is that the first step in this process is recognising there is a problem. If you have done that then you are already on your way to changing. What follows is each step and a short description of what it involves:

Step 1 – Recognising there is a problem
It can take a long time before you become aware of a problem that many of the people close to you have known about for ages. Sometimes the problem is something that everyone else knows about but you do not. People will sometimes try to help you reach this step by telling you about the problem. Until you are ready to receive this sort of information you will just brush it off as someone intruding on your life. Once aware of the problem however, you can start to do something about it.

Step 2 – Recognising the need for change
It is one thing to recognise a problem and quite another to realise there is a need to change it. This is the launching point for all change processes. The move from recognising the problem to realising there is a need to change it is made within a short time for most people.

Step 3 – Determining what will replace it
Since the problem is something that you may have had for a while it is now ingrained in you as a habit. Habits are hard to break but not impossible. The most important part of changing a habit is determining what will replace it. Habits are not eliminated, they are changed. You cannot eliminate habitually watching television all night. You must replace it with reading, going out or some other activity. The same with all of our habits. Choose something that you want to do, say, or think that will replace your current action, words or thoughts. This prepares you for the next step.

Step 4 – Recognise your problem after the act
Now that you know about your problem and have been thinking about it, you will start to recognise situations when it occurs. The only problem here is that you only recognise it after it has happened. Of course this is the first part of being able to change. Looking at the situation that has just occurred and identifying the best way to replace it in that particular situation helps prevent the same situation occurring again.

Step 5 – Recognising the problem during the act
Having really started to work on the problem you will start to recognise the problem behaviour during the middle of doing it. This is an advance over the previous step and indicates that you are making significant steps toward change.

Step 6 – Recognising the problem just before the act
At this step the problem is almost eliminated although since the behaviour is still there it does not really feel like it. Recognising the problem behaviour just afterwards may not leave room for change just yet but it is solid evidence of how far you have come in changing the behaviour.

Step 7 – Recognising the problem before it happens
This is the moment of seeing change. After living with an awareness of the problem for so long it finally comes to this. By recognising the problem before it happens you can now stop yourself from engaging in the unwanted behaviour. Since you have stopped yourself beforehand all you need to do now is replace it with the desired behaviour.

Step 8 – Building better habits
Now that the problem behaviour has been replaced a few times it will become easier and easier to continue replacing it. Over time it becomes second nature to respond with your preferred behaviour. In doing this the new behaviour becomes cemented into your life as a permanent habit.

Step 9 – Change completed
With your old habit replaced by the new one your change is now complete. Any situation where the old habit would have occured you now see the new habit occurring. The change becomes obvious and you feel better for knowing it has happened. There were some tough times throughout this period of change but now you are through it. The change has been completed.

As you can see, there are quite a number of steps involved in changing something. The time that it takes to move through these steps varies from person to person and from habit to habit. The one thing that we can be sure of though is that we all move through these steps no matter how fast or how slow.

By being aware of these steps, the process of change becomes more rewarding. When you recognise you are doing something in the middle of doing it, you realise that you have already progressed to step 5 even though the undesired behaviour is still there. You are changing, and you now know it too.

That is the steps of change.


NB: I do not hold claim to the originality of this information as it is something that I have gleaned from reading a number of works. It is highly likely that someone else has explained it like this before. I have put this here because so many people seem to get upset with themselves even though they are well advanced in their change process and I wanted them to know that although they have not “arrived”, they are well on the way.