July, 2009 AWAKE! Issue


"Depression Help for Sufferers"

"'I woke up one morning when I was 12 years old,' remembers James,* 'sat on the edge of my bed, and wondered, 'Is today the day I die?' James was in the grip of major depression. 'Every day of my life,' says James 30 years later, 'I fought this emotional and mental illness.' James felt so worthless when he was young that he tore up his childhood photographs. 'I didn't even think that I was worth remembering,' he recalls."
"Because we all contend with feelings of sadness occasionally, we could conclude that we understand what depression is all about. But how does it feel to have clinical depression?"
"* Names in this series of articles have been changed."

"A Cruel Intruder"
"More than just a spell of melancholy blues, clinical depression is a grave disturbance that often hinders a person from carrying out daily activities."
"For example, for more than 40 years, Alvaro has been afflicted with 'fear, mental confusion, anguish, and deep sorrow.' He explains: 'My depression made it difficult for me to deal with the opinions of others. I always felt responsible for everything that went wrong.' He describes depression as 'having a terrible pain without knowing where the pain is located, fear without knowing why and, worst of all, absolutely no desire to talk about it.' He knows the cause of his symptoms. He says, 'Knowing that other have the same problem that I have has made me feel better.'"
"In Brazil, 49-year-old Maria was afflicted with depression that caused insomnia, pain, irritability, and 'a seemingly unending feeling of sadness.' When her condition was first diagnosed, Maria was relieved to put a name to the cause of her suffering. 'But then I became more anxious,' she explains, 'because so few people understand depression and it carries a stigma.'"

"Nothing to Be Sad About?"
"Although depression sometimes has an obvious trigger, it often intrudes on a person's life without warning. 'Your life is suddenly darkened by a cloud of a sadness for no apparent reason,' explains Richard from South Africa. 'Nobody you know has died, and nothing distressing has occurred. Yet, you feel dejected and listless. And nothing will make the cloud go away. You are overwhelmed by feelings of despair, and you don't know why.'
"Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Yet, Ana in Brazil felt ashamed to be diagnosed with depression. 'In fact, eight years later I still feel ashamed of myself,' she admits. In particular, she finds it difficult to deal with her emotional anguish. 'The suffering is sometimes so intense,' she explains, 'that I feel physical pain. All the muscles in my body hurt.' At such times it is almost impossible to get out of bed. And then there are the times when Ana cannot stop crying. 'I sob with such intensity and become so exhausted,' she says, 'that it feels as though my blood has stopped circulating.'"
"The Bible acknowledges that people can become dangerously low in spirit. For instance, the apostle Paul's concern about one man was that he night be 'swallowed up by his being overly sad ('swallowed up in overwhelming depression.' Jewish New Testament).' (2 Corinthians 2:7) Some depressed people become so distraught that they wish they could just fall asleep in death. Many feel as did Jonah the prophet: 'My dying is better than my being alive.'-Jonah 4:3."
"What can depressed ones do to treat and cope with this distressing malady?"

"'My husband and I have sought out medical treatment, made lifestyle changes, and worked hard to develop a routine that I can cope with,' says Ruth, who was suffered with depression for many years. 'We seem to have found an effective medication, and I am doing better. But during the time when nothing else seemed to work, the constant love of my husband and friends helped me not give up.'"
"As Ruth's experience indicates, patients who suffer from clinical depression need all the support from clinical depression need all the support they can get, including whatever medical approach might be advisable. It can be risky to ignore depression because in some cases when left untreated it can be life-threatening. About two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ acknowledged that those with medical experience could provide needed help, when he said that 'those who are ill need a physician.' (Mark 2:17) The fact is that physicians can do much to alleviate the suffering of many depressed patients. *"

"There are a number of treatments for depression, varying according to the symptoms and the severity of the illness. (See the bullet points below, 'What Kind of Depression?') Many people may be helped by their family physician, but some need more specialized treatment. The doctor might prescribe antidepressant medication or recommend some other form of assistance. Some people have experienced good results with herbal medications, dietary adjustments, or a controlled exercise program."


1."Well-meaning friends with little or no medical training night try to tell you which method of treatment to accept and which to reject. They might have strong opinions about whether you should take herbal medicine, prescribed medication, or nothing at all.
Consider: Make sure that any advice you accept comes form a reliable source. In the end, you are the one who must make an informed choice."

2."Discouragement may make patients discontinue their choice of treatment because they do not seem to be getting better or because of unpleasant side effects.
Consider: 'There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.' (Proverbs 15:22) A program of medical therapy is more likely to succeed if there is a good communication between doctor and patient. Frankly explain your concerns or describe your symptoms to your doctor, and ask whether you need to adjust the treatment or simply to preserve before you will begin to experience benefits."

3."Overconfidence can make patients stop their medical remedy abruptly after a few weeks because they feel better. The may forget how debilitating their symptoms were before they started their medication.
Consider: Suddenly terminating medical treatment without consulting a doctor can have serious and even life-threatening consequences."

"Though the Bible is not a medical textbook, its Author, Jehovah God, is our Creator. The next article will examine the comfort and guidance God's Word provides both for those who suffer from depression and for their caregivers."

"The effectiveness of any particular medical approach depends on what type of depression a patient has."
  • "Major depression has symptoms that are severe enough to last six months or longer if untreated and that impact on most aspects of a sufferer's life."
  • "Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. Sufferers may experience emotional extremes that careen between prolonged episodes of intense hyperactivity (manias) and devastating lows (depressions).-See the article 'Living With a Mood Disorder,' in the January 8, 2004, issue of this magazine."
  • "Dysthymia, although not as disabling as major depression, has depressive symptoms that make it difficult for the patient to function normally. Some may also experience intermittent periods of major depression."
  • "Postpartum depression is a debilitating emotional condition that effects many mothers after they give birth.-See the article "Understanding Postpartum Depression," in the June 8, 2003, issue of this magazine."
  • "Seasonal affective disorder likely occurs as a result of a lack of sunlight during autumn and winter. It usually clears up during spring and summer."

"King David was a man who experienced much anguish and many 'disquieting thoughts.' Yet, he never doubted that the Creator understands us in every way. "O Jehovah, you have searched through me, and you know me,' he wrote. 'You yourself have come to know my sitting down and my rising up. You have considered my thought from far off. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it all.'-Psalm 139:1, 2, 4, 23"
"We too can be certain that our Creator understands us and the debilitating effect that depression can have on our imperfect minds and bodies. He knows what causes depression and how we can best cope under present circumstances. Furthermore, he has revealed how he will cure depression forever. We could wish for no one better to help us than our compassionate 'God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed.'-2 Corinthians 7:6 The Amplified Bible"
"But depressed ones may wonder how God can help them when they experience distressing emotions."
  • "Is God accessible to the depressed?" God is so close to his depressed servants that it is as if he resided with the 'crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed." (Isaiah 57:15) How comforting to know that 'Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves!"-Psalm 34:18."
  • "How can the depressed get comfort from God? At any time of the day, God's worshippers have approach to the 'Hearer of prayer,' who can help us to cope with distressing feelings and circumstances. (Psalm 65:2) The Bible urges us to pour out our hearts to him: 'Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.'-Philippians 4:6,7 "
  • "What if feelings of unworthiness make us think that our prayers are not being heard? Depression may cause us to conclude that our attempts to please God are not adequate. However, our heavenly Father is sensitive to our fragile emotions, 'remembering that we are dust.' (Psalm 103:14) Even if 'our hearts may condemn us, ' we can 'persuade our hearts' that ' God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.' (I John 3:19, 20, footnote) Therefore, you can use expressions in your prayers that you glean from such Bible passages as Psalm 9:9, 10; 10:12, 14, 17; and 25:17"
  • "What if we are too distraught to put our feelings into words? When painful emotions are so overwhelming that rational speech is difficult, do not give up! Keep approaching 'the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort,' knowing that he understands your feelings and needs. (2 Corinthians 1:3) Maria, mentioned earlier in this series, says 'At times, when I feel very confused, I do not know what to pray about. But I know that God understands and helps me.'"
  • "How does God answer our prayers? The Bible does not suggest that God removes our difficulties now. However, God does impart the strength to cope with 'all things'-including depression. (Philippians 4:13) 'When I first suffered from depression,' admits Martina, 'I prayed for Jehovah to heal me immediately because I thought I would not be able to bear it any longer. Now I am content to pray for strength each day.'"
"The Scriptures are a vital source of spiritual strength to help afflicted individuals to cope with depression. Sarah, who has battled depression for 35 years, personally experienced the practical value of daily Bible reading. She relates: 'I truly appreciate what the medical profession has done for me. Above all, though, I realize the spiritual and practical value of reading God's Word. I have made a habit of reading it.'"

"No More Depression-Ever!"
"When Jesus Christ was on earth, he demonstrated his God-given power to cure painful maladies. Jesus was eager to bring relief to people who suffered from grievous sicknesses. Moreover, he himself knows the agony of distraught emotions. On the night before he was to die a painful death, 'Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears.' (Hebrews 5:7) As distressing as that was to Jesus at the time, we benefit now because 'he is able to come to those who are being put to the test.'-Hebrews 2:18; 1 John 2:1, 2."
"The Bible reveals that God purposes to remove all the distressing conditions that contribute to depression. He promises: 'I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I a creating.' (Isaiah 65:17,18) The 'new heavens,' a society of righteous people on earth, to perfect physical, emotional, and spiritual health. All sicknesses will be wiped out permanently."

"Consolation from the Scriptures"
"Lorraine is strengthened by Jehovah's promise found at Isaiah 41:10: 'Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.'"
"Alvaro says that the words of Psalm 34:4, 6 often console him: 'I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me, and out of all my frights he delivered me. This afflicted one called, and Jehovah himself heard. And out of all his distresses He saved him.'"
"Naoya says that reading Psalm 40:1, 2 always comforts him: 'I earnestly hoped in Jehovah, and so he inclined his ear to me and heard my cry for help...He firmly established my steps.'"
"Psalm 147:3 reassures Naoko that Jehovah 'is healing the brokenhearted ones, and is binding up their painful spots.'"
"Jesus' words recorded at Luke 12:6, 7 help Eliz trust in Jehovah's care: 'Five sparrows sell for two coins of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them goes forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your heads are all numbered. Have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.'"
"Other Bible verses:
Psalm 39:12: 'Do hear my prayer, O Jehovah, and to my cry for help do give ear. At my tears do not keep silent."
"2 Corinthians 7:6: God 'comforts the depressed.'-New American Standard Bible.'"
"1 Peter 5:7: 'Throw all your anxiety upon (God), because he cares for you.'"

*"Awake! does not endorse any particular treatment. Each individual should carefully evaluate his options before making a personal decision."

"When Barbara's depression and feelings of worthlessness are more than she can bear, she and her husband phone Gerard, a family friend who is a Christian overseer. He always listens patiently as Barbara sobs uncontrollably and repeats the same anguished thoughts she has expressed before."
"Gerard has learned to listen without being judgmental, argumentative, or condemning. (James 1:19) As the Bible advises, he has learned to 'speak consolingly to the depressed.' (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Patiently he reassures Barbara that she is very precious to Jehovah God, to her family, and to her friends. He usually reads one or two comforting passages from the Bible, even though he has read some of them to her before. Then, without fail, he offers to say a prayer with her and her husband over the phone, something they always find very consoling.-James 5:14, 15."
"Gerard is very aware that he is not a trained physician, and he never tries to take over the role of Barbara's doctors. He does, however, complement her medical treatment with something few doctors give-consoling scriptures and comforting prayers."
"To 'speak consolingly to the depressed' You might say: 'I just wanted to let you know that I've been thinking of you. I know you don't always feel very well. How have you been lately?'"
"Remember: Speak sincerely and listen with empathy, even if the depressed person says the same things he or she has said before."
"You might say: 'I am amazed at what you are able to do (or 'I am impressed by the Christian qualities you display') despite your health limitations. Even if you wish you could do more, Jehovah loves and appreciates you, and so do we.'"
"Remember: Be compassionate and kind."
"You might say: I came across this encouraging scripture.' Or 'I thought of you when I reread this favorite Bible verse of mine.' Then read or quote the verse."
"Remember: Avoid a preachy tone."

"The energy-Efficient Boxfish"
"To produce a car that is sturdier, more energy-efficient, and environmental friendly, designers looked to an unlikely place for inspiration-under the sea! The boxfish, found near coral reefs in tropical waters, provides an excellent model for a vehicle with lightweight construction and astounding aerodynamics."
"Consider: The boxfish can swim fast-covering a distance of up to six times its body length each second. But this speed is more than a feat of strength. Contrary to expectations, the cubelike shape of the fish actually enhances its aerodynamics qualities. In fact, engineers who constructed a model of the boxfish and tested it in a wind tunnel found this design to slip through the air far more efficiently than compact cars do.
The boxfish has a bony outer skin that gives ti maximum strength with minimal weight. Tiny vortices form in the water surrounding the fish, stabilizing the creature when it encounters turbulence. Thus, the boxfish has outstanding maneuverability and protection from injury.
Engineers believe that the boxfish provides the secret to producing a safer, more fuel-efficient, yet lightweight, vehicle. 'Quite frankly,' says research and development chief Dr. Thomas Weber, 'we were surprised when this clumsy-looking fish, of all things, became our model for designing an aerodynamic and fuel-efficient car.'"
"What do you think? Did the energy-efficient boxfish come about by chance? Or was it designed?"


"Though driving a motor vehicle is viewed as a necessity by millions of people today, driving comes at a price. It has been estimated that over 1,200,00 people lose their lives in traffic accidents worldwide each year! Thus, would it not be worth our while to learn how to drive safely? Let us look at some practical steps that we can take."
"Check Yourself"
"A report in the Australian Journal of Social Issues noted that one of the most significant steps a driver can take to reduce the risk of fatalities is to improve his behavior at the wheel. Therefore, before setting out, a driver might want to ask himself, 'Am I in the proper condition and mood to drive?' Fatigue can dull one's mind and slow responses. The Land Transportation Office of the Philippines lists anger, anxiety, and excitement as emotions that affect driving habits and that can lead to unwise decisions and even violent road rage."
"One's physical condition must also be considered, as certain illnesses or injuries can hamper a person's ability to drive safely. A driver who respects the lives of others will not venture out on the road when his driving ability may be impaired by alcohol. Certain drugs or medications can also affect the driver's reactions. In some cases, it may be prudent to forgo the trip or to get someone else to drive."
"Check Your Skills"
"Especially in developing countries, as the number of vehicles increases, so does the number of new, inexperienced drivers. Thus, it is good to consider two things that any driver can do to avoid accidents."
"Drive defensively! Stay alert, watch for potential road hazards ahead and behind, and anticipate the moves of other drivers-including wrong moves. Since a large percentage of collisions result from one vehicle following another too closely, the wise driver will maintain a safe distance between his vehicle and others."
"Be aware of blind spots and distractions. Turn your head to see what is happening around you, and do not reply solely on mirrors. Avoid distractions while driving. Don't multitask-such activities as talking on the phone or operating gadgets are distracting."
"If you drive a motorcycle: Some authorities say that per mile, a motorcyclist is 37 times more likely to die in a crash than the occupant of a car. What protective steps can you take? Both of the preceding steps also apply to the motorcyclist. In addition, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in the United States says: 'Be visible.' Make sure others can see you. Keep you headlights on. Stay out of blind spots of other vehicles. 'Dress for safety.' Wear a helmet and bright, thick, protective clothing. 'Ride extra defensively.' Assume that others cannot see you, and drive accordingly."
"Check Your Vehicle"
"The driver should be safety conscious, and his vehicle should be in good condition. Brakes should be in good condition, as should all working parts. Tires should have plenty of tread to reduce the possibility of sliding or hydroplaning. Sufficient tire pressure will improve handling and braking. Most vehicles today have seat belts. These do little good if they are not worn."
"Drive your vehicle according to conditions. Wet roads, and especially those with ice and snow, affect stopping distances and steering ability. For night driving, headlights should usually be lowered. Since life is a gift from God, it is only proper that we do what we can to protect our lives, including learning to drive safely."

"Economical Driving:
  • Drive smoothly: Frequent acceleration and braking wastes fuel
  • Avoid idling: Cars today do not generally need to be warmed up before being driven. If the car will be standing for more than half a minute, switch off the engine.
  • Maintain tire pressure: Properly inflated tires roll more easily, thus reducing fuel use significantly.
  • Keep your speed down: Driving at a high speed can be unsafe and can require extra fuel."

"The Lazy Life of a SLOTH"
"'Hurry and get your camera!' I called to my sister as I spotted a green sloth on the jungle path in front of me. We laughed when we realized that there was no reason to hurry-the sloth is one of the world's slowest animals."
"To learn more about this mammal, I visited Zoo Ave in La Garita de Alajuela, Costa Rica. More than just a zoo, it is a center for the rescue, rehabilitation, and return to the wild of native animals. There I met biologist Shirley Ramirez, who was Zoo Ave's enthusiastic research director. She took me to meet the zoo's resident sloth. Pelota, which in Spanish means 'ball.' Sloths, in fact, may curl up into a tight ball to sleep. Pelota is a two-toed sloth the size of a small dog, with a fluffy coat of fur, a snub nose, and big, watery brown eyes."
"My research told me that sloths are solitary animals and that they give birth to a single offspring about once a year. The baby tender, easily digestible leaves from her lips. Later, the baby reaches out to grab its own leaves without ever releasing its grip on its mother. During their time together, the mother sloth also familiarizes her little one with the small home range in which it will live."
"Two-toed, Three-Toed, Green, and Cold"
"I learned that the sloth I had seen in the jungle was a three-toed sloth. It had a black mask around its eyes, a stubby tail, a coat of wiry hair, forelimbs that are much longer than its hind limbs, and a yellow-gold patch between its shoulders. This kind of sloth has nine vertebras in its neck, allowing it to rotate its head 270 degrees in search of its favorite leaves. But why did it appear to be green? Shirley answers, 'That greenish tinge is algae that grows on the sloth's coat.'"
"In contrast with their longer-armed, three-toed cousins, the two-toed species have forelimbs that are about the same length as their hind limbs. Their hair is long, brownish-gold, and soft to the touch."
"The sloth spends its days sunning itself high up in the forest canopy. Its body temperature can fluctuate from an ambient 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night to 91 degrees Fahrenheit during the day-a temperature range greater than that of any other mammal. The sloth has so little muscle mass that it cannot shiver to stay warm. That is why it often sleeps curled up in a ball, to conserve heat. Its undercoat of short, fine hairs helps to insulate it. And yes, the sloth can sleep for 20 hours a day!"
"Lingering Over Lunch"
"Since digestion requires body heat for bacterial activity and fermentation, the sloth's low body temperature gives it an incredibly low metabolic rate. Leaves may take up to a month to go through the stages of digestion in a sloth's multichambered stomach before passing into the small intestine. During a rainy season with many successive cool days, sloths can die of starvation with a stomach full of food. 'For sloths,' explains Shirley, 'the sun's warmth is indispensible to digestion.'"
"Shirley adds: 'As a zookeeper who handles the animals and cleans their cages, I have to say that my favorite thing about sloths is that they only defecate and urinate once a week! When they do, they go down to the ground, dig a hole, and bury their excrement. It is the only thing they do on the ground.'"
"Designed for Life Upside Down"
"Almost everything else sloths do-eat, sleep, mate, and give birth-they do suspend in trees. The little mammals were ingeniously designed by their Creator for life in an upside-down world. The animal hangs by its finger and toes, which are equipped with three-inch-long claws that hook and lock over branches and vines. To prevent the sloth's skin from getting soaked by tropical downpours, even its hair grows upside down! Its hair parts on the belly and grows down around around the back-just the opposite of the hair of other land-based animals-so the rain runs right off. Though on the ground the sloth is awkward and clumsy, when in the branches above, it is the epitome of leisurely grace. Surprisingly, the sloth is also an excellent swimmer!"
"The 'Perfect Host'"
"The greenish cast of the sloth's shaggy fur is caused by symbiotic algae that grow in grooves running along the length of each of the mammal's outer hairs. Then sloth hosts the algae, and the algae return the favor by providing nutrients that the sloth either ingests by licking its fur or absorbs through its skin. The grayish-green color makes the sloth look just like a clump of dry leaves hanging from a branch-the perfect jungle camouflage! And the longer a sloth lives, the greener it gets!"
"What else did I learn about this quiet denizen of the treetops? Two things stand out. First, the sloth has an amazing ability to survive injuries and even doses of poison that would be lethal to other mammals. Severe wounds heal quickly, and they rarely become infected. Hence, a better understanding of the sloth's immune defenses would be helpful to medical research. And second, people who are constantly rushing and under stress might find it beneficial to imitate, at least to some extent, the sloth's relaxed pace and easygoing nature.-Contributed."

"'Visit one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, visit Albarracin.'-Jose Martinez Ruiz, Spanish writer also known as Azorin, 1873-1967."
"Albarracin is a unique town. What makes it so? First of all, its geography, then its history, and finally its delightful surroundings. For these reasons, in 1961 the Spanish government declared this small town in the province of Teruel a national monument. And in 2005, a group of tourist representatives selected Albarracin as 'the most beautiful town in Spain.'"
"Nestled in the mountains of central Spain, Albarracin in an ancient town of some 1,000 inhabitants. Surrounding it are green meadows watered by several rivers and a mountain range that shares its name-Sierra de Albarracin."
"A Source of Food and Water"
"In ancient times, the abundance of game in the Albarracin area attracted settlers, whose cave paintings show that they were fine artists and keen observers of nature. They drew many huge bulls and other animals, which they colored using a white pigment that has been seen only in this area. Scholars think that these caves, where scenes of daily life were portrayed, were used as meeting places for religious or social activites."
"Even today, deer, wild boar, and small game abound in the nearby reserve of Montes Universales. And the Quadalaviar (Arabic for 'White River') is one of the best trout rivers in Spain."
"In 133 B.C.E., the Romans subjugated the local Celtiberian tribes and founded several villages in the Albarracin tribes and founded several villages in the Albarracin region. In the first century C.E., Roman engineers built a 12-mile-long aqueduct. It is considered to be one of the most complex of the Roman public works projects in Spain. Roman religion too left its mark. A carving on a Roman gravestone found in the town of Albarracin indicates that emperor worship was practiced here."
"Prosperity Under Muslim Rule"
"The Moors had overrun this region by the ninth century, and it is believed that the name Albarracin is derived from the name of the Muslim settlers who came here, the Berber clan Banu Razin. In the Middle Ages, Moors, Jews, and nominal Christians lived together with mutual respect and tolerance. As a result, this was the most prosperous period of Albarracin's history."
"Artisans of Albarracin produced beautiful objects, and evidently the practice of medicine also flourished here. A set of surgical tools that was unearthed indicates that local surgeons even operated on cataracts. Albarracin continued under Muslim rule until the end of the 12th century, when it passed to Roman Catholic hands. It is noteworthy that this seems to be the only occasion in Spanish history when such a political change occurred peacefully"
"How does Albarracin look today? A visitor can still meander through the medieval town, since no modern sections have been added."
"An Astonishing Silhouette"
"Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) described Albarracin as 'the city that thrusts its astonishing silhouette into the heights.' This description is apt, since the town is perched on an outcrop of rock that stands some 4,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by a deep gorge, which serves as a defense moat. This natural fortress has protected the town throughout the centuries and has earned Albarracin the nickname Eagle's Nest."
"While strolling through the narrow, cobbled streets of the town, the visitor will spot fascinating architecture of a bygone age. Some of the best examples are the Corner Balcony, the Blue House, and the Julianeta House. The latter almost appears to perform a balancing act at the junction of two streets."
"Houses from the period are constructed of wood and plaster, materials that weigh much less than stone-an important factor if you are building on top of a hill. Their small windows with lace curtains and iron grilles also attract a visitor's attention. The overlapping eaves, carved wooden balconies, and unusual door knockers, often shaped in the form of animals, add a further touch of distinction."
"Any who suffer from vertigo should be careful not to look down when entering one of the hanging houses. Because the town was built on an outcrop of rock and building space was limited, inhabitants built some of their houses right on the edge of the cliff."
"A Moorish castle crowns the hill above the town, where the original nucleus of Albarracin once lay. The Torre del Andador is part of the original wall built by the Arabs in the tenth century. Later constructions were the Gothic cathedral, dating from the 16th century, and the horseshoe-shaped town hall, with its rounded-arch porticoes."
"Natural Treasures in the Vinicity"
"For nature lovers Albarracin has even more to offer. The surrounding mountain range has a great diversity of ecosystems, with abundant flora and fauna. Fountains, springs, and waterfalls grace the wooded mountains. And those who camp here can enjoy the spectacular starry nights."
"Several families of Jehovah's Witnesses reside in this area. The beautiful surroundings they live in remind them of the Bible promises that under God's Kingdom obedient mankind will live in a worldwide paradise. This is the good news that they endeavor to share with their neighbors.-Psalm 98:7-9; Matthew 24:14."
"Each year more than a hundred thousand tourists walk through the narrow streets of Albarracin. If you come to Spain, why not visit this unique 'eagle's nest' hidden in the mountains?"


"TABAKY A Beauty Treatment From Wood"
"In the arid southwest portion of Madagascar, women comb the beach in search of shells to sell to tourists. The woman's faces are covered with a white paste called tabaky. This fascinating multipurpose face mask not only protects the skin from the harsh rays of the sun but also serves as a cosmetic."
"Tabaky is made from the sapwood of the masonjoany and fihamy (also called aviavy) trees. The procedure is simple: A woman rubs a small piece of sapwood against a flat stone, slowly adding a few drops of water at a time to form a paste. She may then dab a small wooden or plastic stick with a rounded end or a fine point into the paste and draw a design on her face."
"Some women apply tabaky to the entire face, leaving just a small space around the eyes. Others prefer to apply it only to the forehead, cheeks, or chin. Tabaky can be used to hide blemishes or control oily skin, or it can be used as a cosmetic. Sometimes other ingredients are used, so the possibilities for creating combinations of shapes, colors, and textures are endless."
"Who would think that a beauty product could come from wood? In Madagascar, far from the fashion centers of Paris and New York, tabaky is an unusual, yet practical, beauty treatment."


"Rickshaw Anyone?"
"Upon arriving in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, a visitor immediately notices something different. Amid the sea of people is an army of cycle rickshaws! Endless streams of these conveyances flood the streets and alleys, carrying people and goods."
"In Dhaka, the rickshaw remains a popular means of transportation. While the number of register rickshaws is about 80,000, most feel that there are many more than that number on the roads every day. In fact, Dhaka has been dubbed the rickshaw capital of the world!"
"Early Rickshaws"
"While earlier versions of a mobile chair were in use during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1638-1715), the invention of the original human-drawn rickshaw is sometimes credited to Jonathon Gable, an American missionary in Japan in the 1870's. It is said that he designed an innovative vehicle for his frail wife and that it was the first one called in Japanese jinrikisha, meaning a vehicle pulled y human power. The word eventually developed into 'rickshaw' in English. Over time, various styles of rickshaws became prevalent throughout Asia as an inexpensive means of transport. When Charles Taze Russell, who took a zealous lead in the work of the Bible Students (as Jehovah's Witnesses were then called), visited Japan in 1912, his delegation used rickshaw in their travel within the country."
"In Dhaka, three-wheeled rickshaws made their deput in the late 1930's. Unlike the rickshaw drawn by a man using two poles attached to the body of the vehicle, these looked similar to a big tricycle. The rickshaw wallah, or driver, pedaled the cycle at the front of the rickshaw. This allowed him to take his passengers or cargo farther, steering more easily through bustling traffic and congested roads."
"Rickshaw Art"
"The rickshaws in Dhaka appear to have every square inch covered with decorations. Where did the tradition of decorating rickshaws come from? When rickshaws first appeared in Dhaka, they had to compete with tomtoms, horse-drawn wagons that carted passengers and goods. Perhaps to lure customers to the new means of transport, rickshaw owners began decorating their vehicles. The paintings and advertisements were eventually turned into distinctive art."
"The overall effect of rickshaw art is spectacular. This is art on wheels. In fact, Syed Manzoorul Islam, A Bangladeshi art critic, describes rickshaws in Dhaka as 'moving picture galleries.' Every possible surface of the vehicle is decorated with colorful designs, pictures, and patterns. Twirling tassels, tinsel, and shiny beads hang from its sides or on its folding canopy."
"Individual artists have their own styles and favorite subjects. Some artwork looks more or less like a billboard, with scenes from the Indian and Bangladeshi cinema, past and present. The art reflects nostalgia for village life and rural landscapes and, at times, social and political issues. Animals, birds, hunting, and lush country scenes are common themes."
"In the 1950's, only a handful of rickshaw painters existed. Today, between 200 and 300 artisans produce these unique pieces of art. The rickshaws are assembled piece by piece in specialized workshops, with parts often made from recycled materials. For example, taking a piece of tin from a drum of cooking oil or some other discarded item, the artist uses enamel paint to create a spectacular scene in full color. Rickshaw art is the folk art of Bangladesh. It has assumed an identity and a charm all its own."
"The Rickshaw Driver"
"As you can well understand, the rickshaw driver leads a strenuous life. Imagine spending your whole day cycling with heavy loads of people or goods. The customers may include housewives, schoolchildren, businessmen, or shoppers with packages. Often, two, three, or more individuals are crowded onto a rickshaw. The rickshaw may also be used to carry sacks of rice, potatoes, onions, or spices for a merchant to sell at the market. Sometimes a passenger will be perched high on top of his mound of possessions. To a bystander, it may appear impossible for a driver to pull such heavy loads. Yet, in the heat of the sun or in the rains of the monsoon, the humble rickshaw driver is hard at work without complaint."
"The majority of drivers have come to the city from poor rural areas where they are unable to eke out a living as farmers. Not able to find higher-paying jobs, many leave their family behind to become rickshaw wallahs. Using their physical strength and energy, they may earn the equivalent of a few dollars (U.S.) each day."
"A Unique Means of Transportation"
"Rickshaws continue to flourish in Dhaka because of the flat terrain and countless alleys and lanes that defy other forms of public transportation. Many people consider this nonpolluting mode of travel to be both beneficial and enjoyable."
"In most Asian cities, rickshaws have become an 'endangered species.' There, the desire for mass transportation and a modern lifestyle has made the rickshaw almost obsolete. However, while many people may view them as out-of-date, there is an effort to preserve the rickshaw through improved designs."
"When traveling in Dhaka, you may choose from many forms of public transportation-bus, taxi, motorbike, auto rickshaw, or the colorful cycle rickshaw. But you will never forget it if you experience a leisurely ride through the crowded streets of Dhaka on a cycle rickshaw!"


"Why am I afraid to share my faith?"
"'There have been some great opportunities to talk about my beliefs at school. But I let them pass.'-Kaleb*"
*Some names in this article have been changed.

"'Our teacher asked the class what we thought about evolution. I knew this was a perfect chance to share my faith. But I completely froze and said nothing. Afterward, I felt really bad.'-Jasmine"
"If you are a Christian youth, perhaps you can relate to the experiences of Kaleb and Jasmine. Like them, you may love the Bible-based truths you have learned and want to share them with others. Still you might
dread the thought of speaking up. But you can develop more courage. How? Take the following steps as you prepare for each school year:"

  1. "Define your fears. When you think about sharing your faith, it's easy to imagine the worst-case scenario! Sometimes, though, you can reduce your fears simply by putting them into words." "Complete the following sentence.""If I talk about my beliefs at school, this is what might happen:______________________________."
  2. "Accept the challenge. Are your fears completely unfounded? Not necessarily. 'Some kids pretended they were interested in my beliefs,' says Ashley. 'But later they turned my words against me and teased me in front of others.' Nicole, 17, had this experience: 'A boy compared a verse in his Bible with the same verse in mine, and the wording was different. He said that my Bible had been changed. I was stunned! I didn't know what to say.' * Situations like these can seem pretty scary! But instead of running away, accept such challenges as a normal part of your life as a Christian. (2 Timothy 3:12) 'Jesus said his followers would be persecuted,' says 13-year-old Matthew, 'so we can't expect everyone to like us or our beliefs.'-John 15:20"
  3. "Think of the benefits. Can any good come out of a seemingly bad experience? Amber, 21, thinks so. 'It's hard to explain your faith to people who don't respect the Bible,' she says, 'but it helps you to understand your own position better.'-Romans 12:2. Look again at the scenario you described at Step 1. Think of at least two good things that could come out of that situation, and write them below. 1.__________ 2.__________ Hint: How might making known your faith lead to less peer pressure? How will doing so affect your self-confidence? Your feelings for Jehovah God? His feelings for you?-Proverbs 23:15."
  4. "Be Prepared. 'The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer,' says Proverbs 15:28. Besides meditating on what you'll say, try to anticipate questions others may ask. Research those topics, and plan out answers you feel comfortable giving.-See the chart 'Plan Your Response.'"
  5. "Get started. Once you're ready to talk about your beliefs, how should you start? You have options. In a sense, sharing your faith is like swimming: Some people ease their way into the water; others jump right in. Likewise, you could start the conversation on a non-religious subject and gradually test the waters, so to speak. But if you find yourself worrying too much about what might go wrong, your best option may be to 'jump right in.' (Luke 12:11, 12) 'Thinking about sharing my faith was always harder than actually doing it,' says 17-year-old Andrew. 'Once a conversation was started, it was much easier than I thought it would be!'" *
  6. "Be sensible. Just as you wouldn't dive into shallow waters, be careful not to jump into pointless arguments. Remember, there's a time to speak and a time to keep quiet. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) At times, even Jesus refused to answer questions. (Matthew 26:62, 63) And remember this principle: 'Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.'-Proverbs 22:3, Today's English Version." " So if you sense an argument coming on, don't 'walk right into it.' Instead, give a brief and discreet reply. For example, if a classmate taunts, 'Why don't you smoke cigarettes?' you could simply say, 'Because I'm not into body pollution!' Depending on the response, you can decide whether or not to explain your beliefs further. The above steps can help you to be 'always ready to make a defense' of your faith. (1 Peter 3:15) Of course, being ready doesn't mean that you'll never feel nervous. But Alana, 18, observes: 'When you explain your beliefs despite being scared, it makes you feel as if you've accomplished something-you've overcome your fear and taken the risk that it might not go well. And if does go well, you'll feel even better! You'll be glad you had the courage to speak up.'"
*See "Conversation Starters"
"More articles from the 'Young People Ask' series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype"

"'I've had some kids laugh at me for expressing my faith. But usually they realize that their teasing doesn't bother me.'-Francesca, Luxembourg."
"'If you don't tell people that you're a Christian, you can lose touch with who are and start acting like everyone else. You can't let yourself be a follower; you have to remain your own person.'-Samantha, United States."
"'When I was younger, I didn't want to be different from other kids. But then I began to appreciate how my faith contributes to a better quality of life. That realization boosted my confidence-it made me feel proud of what I believe.'-Jason, New Zealand."

  • "What are your plans for the summer?" (After response, mention your spiritual plans, such as attending a convention or expanding your ministry.)"
  • "Mention a news item, and then ask: 'Did you hear about that? What do you think of it?'"
  • "'Do you think that the world's financial situation (or another problem) is likely to improve? (Allow for response.) Why do you feel that way?'"
  • "'Do you belong to a religion?'"
  • "'Where do you see yourself five years from now?' (After response, share your spiritual goals.)"

"Could these be the thoughts of someone at your school?"
"'I know you're one of Jehovah's Witnesses. You might think I'm going to ridicule you, but really I respect you. How do you remain so calm amid all the problems in the world? I'm scared Will there be there be another war soon? Will my parents divorce? Will I make it through school today without getting shot or stabbed? I've got so many questions, but you seem to have life all figured out. Is that because of your religion? I'd like to discuss it, but I'm afraid to bring up the subject. Will you please start the conversation?'"


"Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?"
"When Avtar began studying the Bible, her Sikh family was upset. 'In my homeland,' she says, 'changing your religion cuts you off from the community. Even our names have religious meaning. To change your religion is viewed as rejecting your identity and disrespecting your family.'"
"Avtar eventually became one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Was she wrong to change her religion? Perhaps you identify with her family. You may feel that your religion is inextricably linked with family history and culture and should not be changed."
"Honoring one's family
is important. The Bible says: 'Listen to your father who caused your birth.' (Proverbs 23:22) But it is more important to seek to know the truth about our Creator and his purposes. (Isaiah 55:6) Is such a search possible? If so, how important is this search to you?"
"Searching for religious Truth"
"The world's religions teach conflicting ideas. Logically, those teachings cannot all be true. As a result, there must be many people who, as the Bible says, 'have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge.'" (Romans 10:2) Yet, as recorded at 1 Timothy 2:4, the apostle Paul says that it is God's will that 'all sorts of men...come to an accurate knowledge

of truth.' How can such accurate knowledge be found?"
"Consider reasons for examining the Bible. Paul, who was an inspired Bible writer, stated: 'All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.' (2 Timothy 3:16) As part of your search for truth, examine the evidence that the Bible's claim is true. Investigate for yourself its unparalleled wisdom, historical accuracy, and fulfilled prophecy."
"Instead of presenting all religions as equal approaches to God, the Bible tells its readers not to believe everything they hear but to 'test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.' (1 John 4:1) For example, any teaching that truly originates with God must be in harmony with his personality, including his dominant quality of love.-1 John 4:8."
"The Bible assures us that God wants us to 'really find him.' (Acts 17:26, 27) Since our Creator wants us to search for truth, it cannot be wrong to act on the evidence that we find-even if this means changing our religion. But what about the problems that this may bring?"
"Balancing Family Loyalty"
"When people change their beliefs, they may decide that they will no longer share in certain religious rituals or holidays. Understandably, this can result in strong feelings within the family. Jesus acknowledged this. He told his followers: 'I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law.' (Matthew 10:35) Did Jesus mean that Bible teachings were designed to be an unavoidable cause of contention? No. He simply foresaw what could happen when family members react negatively to one who takes a firm stand for beliefs different from theirs."
"Should family conflict be avoided at all costs? The Bible teaches that children should be obedient to parents and that wives should be in subjection to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22; 6:1) However, it instructs those who love God to 'obey God as ruler rather than men.' (Acts 5:29) Thus, at times, loyalty to God may result in your making a decision that is unpopular with some family members."
"Although the Bible makes a clear distinction between true and false teachings, God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family. Does study of the Bible lead to family breakup? No. In fact, the Bible encourages a husband and wife who practice different religions to remain together as a family.-1 Corinthians 7:12, 13."
"Overcoming Fears"
"You may fear how the community will react if you study the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. Mariamma says: 'My family was worried that I would not be able to find a suitable husband who could provide for me. So they opposed my Bible study.' Mariamma put her trust iniJehovah God and continued studying. (Psalm 37:3, 4) You can do the same. Rather than fear the results, consider the benefits. The Bible's message changes lives and personalities for the better. People learn to show unselfish love for their family. Bad habits, such as verbal and physical violence and abuse of alcohol and drugs, can be overcome. (2 Corinthians 7:1) The Bible promotes such wholesome traits as loyalty, honesty, and industriousness. (Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 4:24, 28) Why not study the Bible and see the benefits of applying its teachings in your life?"

  • "Why examine your religious beliefs?-Proverbs 23:23; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4."
  • "How can you identify true teachings?-2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:1."
  • "Should family opposition prevent you from studying the Bible?-Acts 5:29."


"TV Affects Sexual Behavior"
"'There is increasing evidence that youth exposure to sexual content on television shapes sexual attitudes and behavior,' says an article published in the journal Pediatrics. In fact, according to one study, adolescents who have high exposure to such programs are 'twice as likely to experience a pregnancy' than those who view little of such material. One possible explanation is that TV creates the perception that sexual behavior is relatively risk-free, in that unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are not portrayed realistically enough. Of course, TV is just one medium that shapes adolescents' sexual behavior. Researchers also suggest that critical attention should be given to magazines, the Internet, and music."

"New Cases of Leprosy"
"Three thousand people in the United States are receiving treatment for leprosy, also called Hansen's disease. Approximately 150 new cases are diagnosed annually. Many sufferers are from other countries. However, the National Hansen's Disease Program, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 'sees approximately 30 cases each year among residents in southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast of Texas who were born in the U.S. and who have never visited an endemic country,' says the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Researchers still do not fully understand how the disease spreads. If diagnosed early, leprosy is fully treatable. However, once the disease has taken hold, nerve damage cannot be reversed."

"Thefts of Radioactive Material"
"'The possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear or other radioactive material remains a grave threat,' says Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. 'The number of incidents reported to the Agency involving the theft or loss of nuclear or radioactive material is disturbingly high-nearly 250 in the first half of 2008 alone. Equally troubling is the fact that much of this material is not subsequently recovered.' It is not clear whether this phenomenon is a result of an increasing demand for radioactive materials or of member states' more accurate reporting of losses."

"Ancient Writing Found in Israel"
"Israeli archaeologists have found an ancient text that appears to predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years. The document, five lines of text written in ink on a pottery fragment, was uncovered in excavations of a 10th-century- B.C.E. Judean fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel. The document has not yet been fully deciphered, but it seems to be a legal text that was written by a trained scribe and contains 'roots of the words 'judge,' slave' and 'king,'' says a press release from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem."


Reference: www.watchtower.org