Mexidonia 2017 Updated

Starting this Spring we will be driving through Mexico in order to determine where we would like to live. And… we changed our route (still driving from New Orleans to the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize)!

img_9422

In the book of Luke, Jesus advised

“For example, who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense to see if he has enough to complete it?” – Luke 14:28

In order to really get to know where we want to live we will take three months to live in a few different places and gather information on “the expense”.  We plan to make this decision before we head home and we may want to go ahead and secure a rental before we leave the country. We will also be visiting Belize (so that country is still on the table, but doesn’t have as many pros as Mexico). Our route is now as follows:

  • Saltillo, Coa, MX
  • Guanajuato, Gto, MX
  • Puebla, Pue, MX
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chi, MX
  • Valladolid, Yuc, MX
  • Cancun, Qro, MX
  • Chetumal, Qro, MX
  • Belize City, BZE

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-10-39-00-am

On our return trip we would like to see the Rio Bec archeological sites near Xpujil, Palenque, Oaxaca, and maybe go to Guadalajara for the July convention. We also plan to stop in Villa de Santiago (Nuevo Leon) to hike El Laberinto, El Salto,  Cola de Caballo waterfall, and stay at Apple Tree Cabanas.

This is a very aggressive itinerary and will likely change as we drive depending on where we decide to rent and how much time we have before our own regional convention in July.

We have friends in a couple of the places we will be visiting and we have brothers and sisters in each place who we will meet at the local Kingdom Hall 🙂 when we attend meetings. I really fell in love with Valladolid on my last visit to Mexico, so that place is one I wanted to concentrate on. We’ve also heard great things about Guanajuato, San Cristobal de Las Casas, and Chetumal. Cancun is where we have the most contacts, but I don’t know if that city is a good fit for us. It might be a good first place to be until we become better with Spanish. Some of our deal-breakers are:

  • Availability of good medical care
  • Proximity to airport
  • Too many expats
  • No English congregation of JWs

I found this pre-1965 map of the Yucatan and my favorite places are on it, as they existed before Cancun was invented.

map-of-yucatan-pre-cancun

I’m a big history buff, so I’ve been researching what I want to see and do in each place besides meetings and ministry. This is what I’ve found so far:

  • Saltillo, Coa
    • Churrigueresque facade of their cathedral on the Plaza de Armas
  • Guanajuato, Gto
    • Museo del Pueblo and La Valenciana
  • Puebla, Pue
    • Museo Bello and Museo Amparo
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chi
    • Na Bolom museum, Chinkultic, Plaza 31 de Marzo
  • Valladolid, Yucatan
    • Zocalo, Dzitnup cenote, Grutas de Balankanche, Palacio de Municipal
  • Cancun, QRoo
    • El Rey
  • Punta Allen, QRoo
  • Chetumal, QRoo
    • Museo de la Cultura Maya, Cenote Azul

Never Give Way To Doubt

When I read the text this morning I was struck by how close to home the message was. When facing issues of depression, anxiety, stress, or other illness symptoms I have been guilty of giving way to doubt. Cancelled service plans, avoiding text messages from friends who want to get together for an interchange of encouragement, lingering in the bed for hours after my chosen “wake-up” time of 8:30 AM… these are all things I have done because I felt like “I can’t”. But, I didn’t feel that way when I made the plans. This text brought the reason to light.

I made the plans for service because I felt like I could; I could face strangers in metropolitan witnessing or knock on a door not knowing who might be on the other side. Why? Becuase Jehovah expects me to. Because I dedicated my life to doing his will. Because it’s part of acting in concert with my prayers to ‘let Your kingdom come’.

But then… I give way to doubt (Matthew 14:31).

i-just-cant

Laying in bed at 11 PM the night before my 8 AM service plans I start to doubt that I can. I start to think that I can’t. I start to believe that I just can’t. Anxiety sets in. Panic begins. Fear takes over. So I send a text to cancel. I tell myself this is ok. That I have a medical reason. That my PTSD isn’t going to allow me to meet my commitment. That I am a failure. That I will try again tomorrow.

Honestly, there may be times when I just have to try again tomorrow.  However, if you read the paragraph beneath the scripture below and pay attention to the full transcript of the passage to the right, you might hone in on the same sentences I did when I read it:

“Peter… trusted that God’s power would support him…”

Perhaps, in addition to deep breathing, anxiety medication, and staying hidden when I have a panic attack, I can also remind myself (even repeat to myself) that Jesus and Jehovah will support me in all the ways I need support especially when I am giving my time in support of the Kingdom. I’ve spent time today in personal study of this span of scripture using the SOAP-JW method I modified and, let me tell you, it is just what I needed. I hope it encourages you as well.

If you’d like to get the daily text on your smart phone or tablet just go to your app store and download the free JW Library app. The screenshot below is of mine on an iPad mini.

 

img_1532

Spying Out Ferrara, Italy

We will be doing need greater work in this area in the fall. Just wanted to document some sights to see and things to do while we are there.

 

 

ferrara_italy_on-map
Location of Ferrara in Italy

The following was written by the blogger at Gracia’s Travels. See link at bottom of page.

 

Ferrara was another day trip from Bologna.  It’s a larger city and the Old Town sites here are more spread out than in Ravenna.  And as the old saying goes … timing is everything.  Several sites were closed when their signs said they were open, and some sites had limited hours.  So, we walked quite a bit farther and had to do some backtracking.

Castello Estense, built in 1385, is in the center of town.

DSC02196 C

DSC02250 C Castello  DSC02195 C

Much of the castle is now used as government offices but the royal suites are open to visitors.  The rooms are empty but the ceilings make up for that.

DSC02259 C  DSC02268 C

DSC02267 C  DSC02262 C

DSC02261 C

DSC02252 C

The orangery overlooked the moat and a market that was set up in front of a castle entrance.

DSC02255 C

DSC02201 C  DSC02206 C

DSC02203 C  DSC02204 C

A pleasant walk from the castle brought us to Palazzo Schifanoia, built in 1385.  Frescos from 1470 depict the months, seasons and signs of the zodiac.

DSC02207 C Palazzo Schifanoia  DSC02210 C

DSC02211 C

DSC02213 C

Our guide book noted that these frescos are unusually unreligious in tone and the only ones of their type in Italy.  One room had this ornate ceiling.

DSC02215 C

DSC02216 C  DSC02219 C

DSC02221 C  DSC02223 C

We walked down Via Volte through what was once the Jewish ghetto (1627 –1859).

DSC02225 C  DSC02226 C Via delle Volte

DSC02286 C  DSC02285 C

As in other Ghettos, because so many people were packed into a small area, residents added more space by adding rooms that span the narrow lanes.

DSC02284 C  DSC02280 C

DSC02232 C Piazza Cattedrale

We made our way back to the center of town to the Piazza Cathedral…

DSC02275 -7 C Municipale Stitch

DSC02236 C  DSC02233 -4 Duomo of Ferrara Stitch

and went into the 12th century Duomo.

DSC02271 C  DSC02272 C

The Cathedral faces Palazzo Municipal which is linked to the castle. It was the home of the Este family until they built the castle and moved next door.

DSC02198 C

The 15th century Palazzo dei Diamanti was starred in our guide book so we walked north a 1/2 mile to find it closed, although the sign said it should be open.   It houses an art museum which would have been interesting but at least we could see how the building got its name … the façade is covered with spiky diamond shaped stones.

DSC02242 C Palazzo dei Diamanti

DSC02243 C  DSC02247 C

The photos are deceptive.  It’s a very large building.  Notice Will in the doorway.

DSC02248 C Parco Massari

There was a pretty park across the street.

On our walk back to the train station we passed through a part of the old city walls.

DSC02291 C City wall

DSC02279 C    There is a lot to see in Ferrara.

We would have run out of time if all the sites had been open.

Next stop, Venice.

 

See this post on their blog at https://graciamc.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/a-day-in-ferrara-italy/

 

 

italy-northern
Ferrara is in the Emilia Romagna Region

SOAP-JW Bible Study Method

I just attended our circuit assembly with the theme “Maintain Your Love For Jehovah”. It was a great day of bible discourses on all subjects relating to the theme of maintaining your love for God. One major point made regarding Matthew 22:35-40 was that the commandment to love Jehovah God, described at the greatest commandment, is connected inextricably to the second commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”+ 37  He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah* your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul* and with your whole mind.’+ 38  This is the greatest and first commandment. 39  The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’+ 40  On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40

So I made a graphic containing some of the key scriptures from my notes and will use a modified SOAP (scripture, observation, application, prayer) method to meditate on them. Let’s call my method the SOAP-JW method 🙂

maintain-your-love-for-jehovah

The SOAP method itself is very simple but allows for deep meditation on the scripture you choose to study. In adding JW to the method I will ask myself ‘what does this teach me about Jehovah’ for J and ‘how can I use this while witnessing’ for W. I can use the method for all the key scriptures I took notes on.

How SOAP-JW works:

  • SCRIPTURE: The first step is scripture. Since I use this for personal study I always start off with prayer. Then I choose a verse that I want to study more fully; a scripture I heard at meeting, the theme from a new song, from a morning worship, during the monthly broadcast, or from a friend and I write it out in its entirety.
  • OBSERVATION: The next step is observation. This is where I write down what I think the scripture means and why it was included in the bible. What did Jehovah want us to learn from it? Is it similar to others I have read? Is there a prophecy or fulfillment connected with it?
  • APPLICATION: Step three is application. What does it mean? How can I apply the scripture to myself, my life, or something I am going through? How could it help me?  I look up the scripture on wol.jw.org and see if there are further explanations in reference material that could help me understand the scripture and application more fully. I take notes on what I uncover.
  • PAUSE: In the original method I would end the process the same way I started- prayer. I could even write out the points I prayed on… but for my modified method I will label this step pause. I pause and take some time to think about what I learned and how it applies to me.
  • JEHOVAH: This is a key step, the step where I think critically about Jehovah, our creator. What does the scripture teach me about Jehovah? We use this question during our Christian Life & Ministry Meeting (LMM) and it is a really good one to ask during personal study, too.
  • WITNESSING: Another question from the LMM, how can I use this information while witnessing to others about the good news of God’s kingdom?

When I follow this method I know I will meet all the points recommended in our Ministry School book (see first reference link for the entire article):

TO REAP THE GREATEST REWARDS
  • Prepare your heart

  • Preview the study material

  • Isolate important facts

  • Consider how the scriptures provide reasons for statements made

  • Review the main points

  • Meditate on how your own life should be influenced by what you study

  • Seek opportunities to use the material to help others

 

 

soap-jw-bible-study-method-2

 

Reference Articles On Personal Study

Study Is Rewarding  http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102001056

Study – Rewarding and Enjoyable http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2000723

San Cristobal de Las Casas, MEX

Since we will be taking a three-month trip to do need greater work in Mexico this summer I wanted to document some of the sights in the cities along our route to Valladolid.

san-cristobal-how-to-get-there-map-large
Location of San Cristobal de Las Casas

 

 

 

The following is a blog post on San Cristobal written by goats on the road. Their link is at the bottom of the page:

Our bodies slid from left to right, from one side of our seat to the other, as our bus driver took the seemingly endless hair-pin turns at full speed. Trying to fight off the inevitable nausea and motion sickness was the ultimate goal of this 5 hour journey from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas (San Cristobal), which took us from a mere 60m to an altitude of 2,200m and into the mountainous, rugged hills of the Chiapas State. With each ascending, winding turn, the scenery changed and so did the climate. The tropical air, palm trees and thick humidity soon dissipated and we embraced the cool air and familiar pine trees.

Alrededores de san cristobal
Pine trees in San Cristobal (by Leo via Wiki Commons)

San Cristobal is located in Chiapas, the Southernmost State of Mexico. Set in a small valley surrounded by pine-forest highlands, this charming colonial city is the perfect place for exploring. This State has the second largest indigenous population in the country and surrounding San Cristobal are dozens of Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages, just a short bus ride away. With many pedestrian-only streets, narrow cobblestone lanes and numerous towering churches and cathedrals, this is a great place to stay a while.

Nature & Landscapes

The first thing we noticed when arriving in the city were the mountains. We had become so accustomed to the flat terrain of the Yucatan area, so it was a breath of fresh air (literally) to be surrounded by such wild nature. We had read about the San Cristobal Church and the Guadalupe Church, each set at opposite ends of the city and were really looking forward to visiting them. The only catch was that we had to hike up many uneven steps to reach these sights. We made our way slowly up the steep rock-cut stairs, taking our time not only to rest, but to enjoy the unbelievable views over the city down below and the surrounding mountains.

san cristobal de las casas mexico
Views over San Cristobal de las Casas city

The churches were beautiful and there were only a couple of people around. We sat and enjoyed the serenity and peace at these viewpoints before slowly venturing back to the maze of streets and speeding cars in the city below.

guadalupe church san cristobal de las casas
Views from Guadalupe Church

Although nature and mountains can be seen while staying in the city, there are many natural sights just outside of San Cristobal as well. The towering Misol Ha waterfall, Sumidero Canyon and the cascading waterfalls of Agua Azul are all great day trips from the city. We visited the Sumidero Canyon, but we’re saving that story for another time…

The Coffee & Cafe Culture

There seems to be a growing cafe culture in this city, which gives it a bit of a European feel. Tourists and locals alike spend hours a day enjoying a cup of Chiapas’ finest beans. Producing 4 million sacks of coffee each year, Mexico ranks 5th in the world behind the likes of Colombia and Brazil. We would spend our mornings lazily sipping on a freshly pressed cup of coffee while planning out our day. During the evenings we would wander by different cafes and be enticed inside by the strong waft of coffee beans and vibrant live music.

coffee san cristobal de las casas mexico
Nick under the umbrella – A beautiful area to enjoy a cup of coffee

Churches, Convents & Plazas

While exploring the city, we stumbled upon many pastel coloured, historic churches, convents and plazas. Some we planned to visit, others we were pleasantly surprised by as we rounded the street corner.

templo de santo domingo san cristobal
Beautiful Templo de Santo Domingo, one of the many gorgeous churches here

We were even lucky enough to witness some traditional dancing at the main square, which was truly a treat.

dancing san cristobal de las casas
Traditional dancing in the plaza

The Plaza 31 de Marzo, Templo de Santo Domingo and Church of Santiago were highlights for us. As far as walkable cities go, San Cristobal is one of the best! With many pedestrian-only streets, sauntering around this city while gazing up at the architecture and mountainous backdrop was an enjoyable experience.

plaza 31 de marzo san cristobal de las casas mexico
Plaza 31 de Marzo and the surrounding areas are great for walking and people watching

Markets & Food

One of the things that we really enjoy when travelling is visiting the local markets. The hustle and bustle of the vendors setting up their goods, people bartering for products and the overall vibe makes for an authentic and exciting experience. We explored the Municipal Market not only for pure enjoyment, but also with a purpose. We were on a mission to purchase local produce for dinner. We browsed, sniffed and felt the fresh fruits and vegetables before deciding on some we liked. The market was hectic, loud and a lot of fun to visit.

market in san cristobal de las casas
Selling chickens and roosters in the Municipal Market

The candy and crafts market near the San Francisco Church was also a highlight. Here we wandered through the many aisles of sweets and textiles and even got lost in the maze of shops a few times.

sweets market san cristobal de las casas
Yum!

Not only are there food markets in San Cristobal, there are many art and textile markets as well. The indigenous people of Chiapas are known for their fantastic weaving skills; colourful blankets, scarves and clothing can be found for sale all over the city. We explored the daily, tented crafts market near the Templo de la Caridad where bohemian travellers and local Chamulan women sell everything from bracelets to leather bags. Even though we weren’t there to purchase anything, it was a colourful and lively place to wander through.

Blinded By The Beauty…

Many people come to San Cristobal for a couple of days and are blinded by the bright churches, lively squares and colourful traditional clothing that is worn by the local people. It’s easy to come here as a tourist and only see the surface charm. But as each day went by in this city, we began to notice certain things. We learned more about the ill-treatment of the indigenous people and the high levels of poverty that this state is plagued with.

church of santiago san cristobal de las casas
Bright Church of Santa Lucia

As far as natural resources are concerned, Chiapas is the richest State in Mexico, yet economically it is the poorest. An astonishing 70% of people live below the poverty line. There is an embarrassing lack of resources for the inhabitants here (mainly the peasants, farmers and indigenous people). According to Wikipedia and the Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group, 18 out of every 100 people 15 years or older cannot read or write. Only 38% of homes have clean drinking water, 15% have drainage systems and less than 30% have access to electricity or gas.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASan_Cristobal_-_Indianische_Stra%C3%9Fenh%C3%A4ndlerinnen.jpg
Women from nearby villages come to the city to sell their goods to tourists (Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber)

There have been uprisings and rebellions against the Mexican Government in the past, with the most famous being the Zapatista uprising of 1994, which took place on the day when the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect. The Zapatistas fought (and still fight) for autonomy of the State of Chiapas, support of indigenous people, public health, women’s rights and more.

Final Thoughts

Despite the in-your-face poverty and repeatedly saying “no, gracias” to 3-year-old children trying to sell us bracelets and blankets, we really did enjoy our time here. We weren’t ignoring the issues of Chiapas, but we’ve travelled to many 3rd world countries in the past and have experienced this type of poverty before. We chose to help where we could and to enjoy the city for all of the positive things it has to offer tourists.

san cristobal de las casas mexico
Enjoying the beautiful city of San Cristobal with some freshly made ice cream!

On the surface, San Cristobal is the perfect retreat for the weary traveller, and to the naked eye, this is a city full of stunning sights, historic wonder, affordable textiles and gorgeous landscapes. But dare to dig a little deeper and you’ll find a culture and history that is as windy and bumpy as the bus ride that gets you here.

You can read their blog here http://www.goatsontheroad.com/san-cristobal-de-las-casas-mexico-revealing-sides-cool-colonial-city/

Let Your Will Be Done

So, I really want it all! I’ve realized that I have been favoring Italy over a closer opportunity because of my own desires so tonight I poured out my heart to Jah. This really needs to be His will and not mine. I can still go to Italy for vacation, but I can’t ignore the signs pointing due south to MX and Belize. I guess that’s a bit of spiritual maturity and progress, right? I’m a work in progress 🙂

Communication For Marriages 101

how to discuss problems

Reblogged from JW.org 

THE CHALLENGE

When you and your spouse discuss a problem, do you seem to end up further apart than when you started the conversation? If so, you can improve the situation. First, though, there are a few things you should know about the different communication styles of men and women. Read the article as reblogged here and then go to the original site for more encouraging, informative, and helpful articles for couples here

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Women usually prefer to talk out a problem before hearing a solution. In fact, sometimes talking is the solution.

“I feel better when I have expressed my feelings and know that my husband understands me. After I talk about it, I’m over it—usually within just minutes after the conversation.”—Sirppa. *

“I can’t move on if I don’t have a chance to explain to my husband exactly how I feel. Talking it out is a form of closure for me.”—Ae-Jin.

“It’s like detective work. As I talk, I’m analyzing each step of the problem and trying to get to the root of it.”—Lurdes.

Men tend to think in terms of solutions. That is understandable because fixing things makes a man feel useful. Offering solutions is his way of showing his wife that she can rely on him for help. So husbands are baffled when their solutions are not readily accepted. “I can’t understand why you would talk about a problem if you didn’t want a solution!” says a husband named Kirk.

But “understanding must precede advice,” warns the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. “You have to let your partner know that you fully  understand and empathize with the dilemma before you suggest a solution. Oftentimes your spouse isn’t asking you to come up with a solution at all—just to be a good listener.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO

For husbands: Practice empathetic listening. A husband named Tomás says: “Sometimes after listening I think to myself, ‘That didn’t accomplish anything.’ But often that’s all my wife needs—a listening ear.” A husband named Stephen would agree. “I find it best to let my wife express herself without interrupting,” he says. “More often than not, she finishes and tells me she feels a lot better.”

Try this: The next time you discuss a problem with your wife, resist the urge to give unsolicited advice. Make eye contact, and focus on what she is saying. Nod in agreement. Repeat the gist of what she says to show that you get the point. “Sometimes my wife just needs to know that I understand her and that I’m on her side,” says a husband named Charles.—Bible principle: James 1:19.

For wives: Say what you need. “We might expect our spouse to know just what we need,” says a wife named Eleni, “but sometimes we do have to spell it out.” A wife named Ynez suggests this approach: “I could say, ‘Something is bothering me, and I would like you to hear me out. I don’t need you to fix it, but I would like you to understand how I feel.’”

Try this: If your husband prematurely offers solutions, do not conclude that he is being insensitive. Likely he is trying to lighten your load. “Instead of getting annoyed,” says a wife named Ester, “I try to realize that my husband does care and wants to listen but that he also just wants to help.”—Bible principle: Romans 12:10.

For both: We tend to treat others the way we want to be treated. However, to discuss problems effectively, you need to consider how your spouse would like to be treated. (1 Corinthians 10:24) A husband named Miguel puts it this way: “If you are a husband, be willing to listen. If you are a wife, be willing to hear solutions once in a while. When you meet in the middle, both spouses benefit.”—Bible principle: 1 Peter 3:8.

Survivors of Abuse

 

THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES

Jehovah Has Done So Much for Me

Crystal, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, tells how learning what the Bible teaches helped her to build a relationship with Jehovah God and to find meaning in her life. Click the link to view her video:

https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/activities/living-bible-principles/adult-survivor-child-abuse-video/ 

To watch a video on protecting your children from abusers visit:

https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/family/children/become-jehovahs-friend/videos/protect-your-children/

An End to PTSD?

Traumatic Stress Will End!

(From http://m.wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102001603)

PERHAPS you are a war veteran and you suffer from nightmares and flashbacks that make it seem as though the war has still not ended for you. Perhaps you are a victim of heartless violence such as rape and feel that a part of you died in the horror of the experience. Or it may be that a loved one died in a natural disaster or accident and continuing without that one is extremely painful.

Do you wonder if such feelings can be changed? We can answer with confidence: Yes, they can! In the meantime, all who suffer trauma can find comfort in God’s Word, the Bible.

Helped to Endure Trauma

Nearly two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul underwent terrifying, life-threatening experiences. His descriptions of some of these are preserved in the Bible. “We do not wish you to be ignorant,” Paul wrote, “about the tribulation that happened to us in the district of Asia, that we were under extreme pressure beyond our strength, so that we were very uncertain even of our lives. In fact, we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death.”—2 Corinthians 1:8, 9.

While it is not known exactly what happened on that occasion, it was certainly traumatic. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) How did Paul cope?

Reflecting on his ordeal in Asia, he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those in any sort of tribulation through the comfort with which we ourselves are being comforted by God.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.

Yes, help for trauma survivors is available from “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.” How can you obtain such comfort?

How to Receive Help

First—ask for help. If you feel emotionally paralyzed, remember that others have felt that way too. Those who have overcome such feelings are usually glad to assist others. Like the apostle Paul, they often feel that the comfort they received from God during their trial needs to be shared with “those in any sort of tribulation.” Do not hesitate to approach one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—any one of them with whom you feel comfortable—and request assistance in obtaining help from Jehovah, “the God of all comfort.”

Persevere in prayer. If prayer is difficult because you have feelings of anger, ask someone spiritually qualified to pray with you. (James 5:14-16) When you speak to Jehovah God, remember to “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Over and over the Scriptures emphasize the personal concern that God has for each of his servants.

The writer of Psalm 94 may well have experienced something very traumatic, for he wrote: “Unless Jehovah had been of assistance to me, in a little while my soul would have resided in silence. When I said: ‘My foot will certainly move unsteadily,’ your own loving-kindness, O Jehovah, kept sustaining me. When my disquieting thoughts became many inside of me, your own consolations began to fondle my soul.”—Psalm 94:17-19.

Some sufferers of traumatic stress are especially troubled by “disquieting thoughts,” which can become at times an overwhelming torrent of panic or rage. However, heartfelt prayer can help “sustain” you until those feelings pass. Think of Jehovah as a loving parent and of yourself as a small child whom he lovingly protects. Remember the Bible’s promise that “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:7.

Healing—whether physical, mental, or spiritual—is a gradual process. So it would be unrealistic to expect that prayer will bring instant peace to those seriously damaged by traumatic experiences. Yet, persistent prayer is vital. It will help keep the sufferer from being overwhelmed and driven to despair by post-traumatic emotions.

Read and meditate on God’s Word. If concentration is difficult, ask someone to read comforting Bible accounts with you. You might choose passages that reveal the depth of Jehovah’s tender concern for his faithful ones, no matter how depressed or despairing they may feel.

Jane, mentioned in the preceding articles, drew comfort from many Bible passages in the Psalms. They include Psalm 3:1-8; 6:6-8; 9:9, 10; 11:1-7; 18:5, 6; 23:1-6; 27:7-9; 30:11, 12; 31:12, 19-22; 32:7, 8; 34:18, 19; 36:7-10; 55:5-9, 22; 56:8-11; 63:6-8; 84:8-10;130:1-6. Do not try to read too many Bible passages at one time. Rather, take time to meditate on them and pray.

Unprecedented Distress Now

Sadly, it should be no surprise that rapes, murders, wars, and needless violence abound today. Why? Because Jesus Christ characterized our time as one in which there would be an “increasing of lawlessness.” He added: “The love of the greater number will cool off.”Matthew 24:7, 12.

In recent years traumatic stress has become all too common—often as a result of the very events that Jesus foretold. As recorded in the Bible in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21, Jesus said that in this world’s time of the end, there would be international wars, natural disasters, and increased lawlessness and lovelessness. Yet, as Jesus also observed, relief is not far off.

After describing a worldwide epidemic of trauma and the start of “great tribulation” to follow, note what Jesus said people should do: “Raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Matthew 24:21-31; Luke 21:28) Yes, as world conditions worsen, we can be sure that great tribulation upon this distress-causing system of things will culminate in the end of all wickedness and the ushering in of a righteous new system.—1 John 2:17; Revelation 21:3, 4.

We should not be surprised that our deliverance will come only after wickedness and violence have reached their zenith. God’s judgments in the past against the world of Noah’s day and the vile inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah followed a similar pattern. Those past executions of divine judgment show what will happen in the future.—2 Peter 2:5, 6.

The End of Traumatic Stress

If you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may wonder if your painful memories will ever be laid to rest. Yet, the answer surely is: Yes, they will be! At Isaiah 65:17, Jehovah God declares: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” Although the psychological scars of past trauma may seem permanent, this scripture assures us that someday their power to disturb will be entirely gone.

Today, over one year after the attempted rape, Jane is serving as a pioneer minister (full-time evangelizer) of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It was not until the trial was over and my attacker had been convicted—more than eight months after the attack—that I really felt like myself again,” she said recently. “This time last year, I could not have imagined the peace and happiness I now enjoy. I thank Jehovah for the beautiful hope of everlasting life and the chance to share that hope with others.”—Psalm 27:14.

If you are struggling with the despair and paralyzing emotional numbness of PTSD, that hope can help sustain you as well.

[Picture on page 8]

Attending Christian meetings can help you to cope

[Pictures on page 8, 9]

Reading God’s Word and praying can help sustain you

[Picture on page 10]

Soon all trauma will be a thing of the past

How to Help Those With Anxiety Disorders

From http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102012090 

“My heart often pounds really hard, and I break out in a cold sweat and find it difficult to catch my breath. I am overcome by feelings of dread, anxiety, and mental confusion.”—Isabella, a panic disorder sufferer in her forties.

ANXIETY can be described as “a feeling of nervousness or worry.” Have you, for example, ever felt nervous when confronted by an angry dog? What happens when the dog goes away? The nervousness and worry do too, don’t they? What, though, is an anxiety disorder?

When anxiety becomes chronic, when it continues even after there is no more need to feel anxious, anxiety can become a disorder. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older . . . in a given year.” Consider Isabella, quoted in the introduction. Unrelenting anxiety, such as she experiences, can have serious consequences for the sufferer.

Not only that, but the immediate family may also be affected adversely. There is good news, though. An NIMH publication states: “Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives.”

Family and friends can also help one who is suffering from an anxiety disorder. How?

How to Help

Be supportive: Monica, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, explains a difficulty she faces: “Most people find it hard to understand my emotional problems.”

As a result, anxiety disorder sufferers are often so afraid of being misunderstood that they try to hide their problem from others. This can result in feelings of guilt that worsen their emotional state. It is vitally important, therefore, for family and friends to be supportive.

Learn more about the disorder: This suggestion may be especially appropriate for those who deal closely with sufferers of anxiety disorders. This may include an immediate family member or a particularly close friend.

Keep comforting one another: The first-century missionary Paul urged friends in the Greek city of Thessalonica to “keep comforting one another and building one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We can do this both by our words and our tone of voice. We need to show that we deeply care for our friends, and we need to avoid hurtful insinuations.

Consider the three professed friends of the man Job, after whom a book in the Bible is named. Those men, as you may remember, wrongly implied that Job was in some way covering over concealed sins and that his suffering was the result of his cover-up.

So, be sensitive to a sufferer’s feelings. Listen carefully. Try to view matters through the eyes of the one who is suffering, rather than through your own. Do not jump to conclusions while listening. Job’s professed friends did, and as a result, they were called “troublesome comforters.” They actually made him feel worse!—Job 16:2.

Remember to listen carefully to sufferers. Allow them to express freely how they feel. This may help you to understand better what they are going through. And think of the reward! You may be able to help sufferers enjoy a more full and meaningful life.

Identifying Types of Anxiety Disorders

Understanding anxiety disorders is vital, especially when the people involved are immediate family members or close friends. Consider five types of such disorders.

Panic Disorders Recall Isabella, mentioned in the introduction of our article. It is not only the attacks of anxiety that she finds disabling. “In between them, there is the dread that an attack is going to happen again,” she says. As a result, sufferers tend to avoid places where they have had an attack. Some become so restricted that they are housebound or are able to confront a feared situation only when accompanied by someone they trust. Isabella explained: “Merely being alone is enough to trigger an attack. Mother gives me security; I can’t stand it if she is not nearby.”

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder A person obsessed with germs or dirt may develop a compulsion to wash his hands over and over again. Regarding a similar compulsion, Renan says: “My mind is in constant turmoil as I go over and over past mistakes, reanalyzing them and looking at them from every possible angle.” The result is an obsession to confess past mistakes to others. Renan is in constant need of reassurance. But medication has been of help in controlling his obsession.*

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) In recent times this term has been used to describe a range of psychological symptoms people may experience following an extremely traumatic event that involved physical harm or the threat of such. PTSDsufferers may startle easily, be irritable, become emotionally numb, lose interest in things they once enjoyed, and have trouble feeling affection for others—especially those with whom they used to be close. Some become aggressive, even violent, and tend to avoid situations that remind them of the original traumatic incident.

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder This is a term used to identify people who are overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. Some sufferers have an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. They may worry for days or weeks before attending an event. Their fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, or other ordinary activities and makes it hard for them to make and keep friends.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Monica, mentioned earlier, suffers from this disorder. She goes through the day filled with “exaggerated worries,” even though there is little or nothing to provoke them. Sufferers tend to anticipate disaster and are overly concerned with health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Just the thought of getting through the day may produce anxiety.*

[Footnotes]

Awake! does not endorse any specific medical treatment.

The above material is based on a publication of the National Institute of Mental Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.