29/03/2009

A great, big extended family

For some reason, I find myself thinking a lot about our trip last summer, and the time I spent in Panama after Tom left. I thank the Lord that T&me will be together throughout this upcoming trip, Lord willing, and we won't have to face the challenges we faced last summer.

I remember the day he left - the heart wrenching moment he walked out of the hotel room in David to catch his crazy Scare-Air Panama plane to San Jose, to then catch a plane to Canada. I remember the sound of the door closing, the tear in my eyes blurring the view of our hotel suite, and feeling utterly alone. I knew is was just the Lord and I now in this strange country. But sometimes the Lord just doesn't seem that visible.

I finished packing my backpack and caught a cab to the bus station, the bus to San Felix, and hiked it up to my friends' rented house. No one was there...Well, except the scary landlord that slept in the garage. Yikes. 'Rented' space down there doesn't have the same definition as it has here. Sometimes my colleague would come home to find the landlord in her house going through one of the closets making a list of items that were 'missing' and "Stolen by your Indian friends!" She has gotten in trouble many times for having indigenous people stay in her house. "Your white friends can stay, Latinos can visit, but Indians steal. They are not allowed in my house." Are you serious?

I knocked some fresh oranges out the tree and went for a nap in my room. My two colleagues returned from the field after a few hours had passed. I was delighted to be reunited and not alone...But the feeling didn't last for long. The one colleague, with whom I planning on traveling a bit with, delighted in telling me she bought tickets to Canada and was leaving the next morning. My other colleague was meeting up with her mom half-way across the country for mother-daughter time for the next 5 days. I, apparently, was going to be alone. All of this information would have been nicer to know *before* Tom left, for I knew if he were to find out at the same moment as I, he would have talked the pilot into turning around.

I racked my brain as to what I was suppose to do. This guy sleeping in the garage creeped me out a bit. Warranted or not, he scared me. I had a lot of work to get done and knew I had to focus on it. My colleague was going to return in 5 days, where would I go for this long and be able to bring my work with me???

Earlier in the trip Tom and I visited a mission couple working outside the city of David, they ran a feeding center and recently started a new church in the area. When we visited with them (for two half-days) Tracy, the wife, gave me her cell number and told me if any emergencies were to arise, all I need to do is call.

Was I in an emergency situation? I was a lone, young, female in a tiny Latin town in rural Panama with a landlord, who has no issues with walking into the house, sleeping in the garage. Often after being at the bar for the evening. At Tom's immediate instruction, I called. The welcoming I received was incredible. I told her I didn't want to impose, I told her that it would be for 5 days (!!). I told her, a stranger up until a few days ago and only met for 2 half days. She responded "All you are doing is accepting our invitation to come stay with us. We are delighted to hear you've agreed to come."

My word! God isn't that invisible sometimes, eh?

I stayed with them for the next week, helping where I could but being pampered by this hospitable family and the community in which they built. The experience of living with missionaries for a week was so humbling. The dedication, the commitment, the passion. The willingness to teach and support, and to open their home to a stranger in need. Children would ask if we were sisters (we were the only two white ladies in the community). She would tell them "Yes," we were indeed. We are to care for our brothers and sisters.

I learned a lot from Tracy. I'm in less contact with her than I should be, but recently learned that she is due with her third child in August. When I was there, we talked a lot about being wives, the prospects of children, and how missions 'fit' into all of that.

"How wonderful it would be to see you and Tom again!" She wrote in response to hearing we will be in the neighboring country come autumn. "You are always welcome here."


May the Lord bless you and your family, for blessing others so much.

26/03/2009

If you don't want to sleep for 30 days

Then let me suggest: A Voice for the Voiceless


The personal impact stories included in this booklet are enough to make you have a nervous breakdown.
I have to hand it to the authors who's ability to write transfers you from your morning coffee and housecoat to the reality and horror others face in this world.
Although I've heard some of the statistics included, never have I felt even a smidgen of their pain or realized their actual situations. In 30 one-page stories, you will get a better feel for this world and feel a bit of its ugliest parts.

To be very honest, I can't handle it. The first few days of stories left me paralyzed to enjoy myself in anything I did. It left me continually wondering "What good is this doing for those in this world that are so powerless and trapped in horrid situations?". Although ignorance may be bliss, reality is what we all need and a good dose of it for all mankind may actually motivate this world to *do something*. This book has invoked a mad passion within me to want to DO SOMETHING!

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves; and neighbors means those outside our own families, to those that are in need next door and around the world. We are instructed to love and care for the orphans and widows. Disgust towards the powers, people, and practices that trap human beings into horrid situations (that often will last their entire lives) will only go so far. One option is to put the book down, walk away, and try to forget about it. But that paralyzes. That propagates. Another option is to let it bother me. Let it remind me that this world is not as beautiful as my situation makes it out to be. Let it motivate me to even do the smallest things for others. For what you do *do*, otherwise would not have been done.

24/03/2009

Say no to crystal balls

Today, a year ago, I fell down. At the time I had no clue what lay ahead of us and the length of time it was going to take me to get back up.

I am so thankful we don't have crystal balls to look into the future and see what's on the horizon. If we knew, we may never leave the house, take risks, or truly live life. If I was to see what was laying ahead I would have dreaded it, and most probably not have got the amazing experience out of it that we did.

Say no to Crystal-Balls, the good Lord holds us in his hands.

23/03/2009

Happy Birthday to my BiL!

Thank goodness you survived our visit last spring to live to another birthday!


22/03/2009

Phearady's Story

Please consider sponsoring World Vision's 30Hr famine; the money raised goes to those that are in desperate need. The official famine is on April 3-4th. We, along with 30 youth, will be fasting for 30 hours to raise awareness and financial resources to help fight hunger.

If you know someone who is doing the famine, I encourage you to sponsor them; if you don't know anyone else who is doing it, we would be very excited if you sponsored us.



As promised, here's Phearady's Story:

video

20/03/2009

Eye see you.

When I was born, my left eye ligaments were longer than 'normal', resulting in a turned-in eye...Meaning my eyes were crossed. I couldn't move my left eye properly and my parents were advised to patch my good eye, in hopes the left would come around. But, according to the official doctor's report "...the patient would not tolerate an eye patch."



My parents were told that if they were to leave it, I would probably eventually loose the sight in my eye. Surgery was an option, and when I was 'old' enough, my parents went for it. So at a ripe age of 8 months, my parents handed me over to the pediatric surgeon and he tightened it up in an elective day surgery. Everything went well. I see out of both eyes, although about 80% of my vision comes from my right. I asked about this one time, but I was told that everyone has a dominant eye, so I continued on with my life, not thinking too much of it. I wore glasses, but both eyes had the same prescription.

Lately, Lefty has been having a few problems. She hasn't been keeping up as well with good strong Righty. When I'm tired, sometimes she can't line up right...Instead, she turns a little to the left (outwards). This causes huge self-conscious problems for me. I creep myself out when looking at it in the mirror. I can hardly stand to see it. This of course translates into me not wanting anyone else to see it. Which translates into not wanting to look others in the eye anymore. Or, when I actually bring myself to look, I often find myself wondering more about eye alignments than actually listening. This is too bad really, considering 95% of the time she's in line. This is also too bad because I've always considered my eyes to be my best facial feature. Or, well, my only facial feature.

Two months ago I had the amazing opportunity to see the pediatric ophthalmologist here in Montreal. It took about 9 months to get in to see her. During some tests, we came to learn that my brain has disassociated my eyes, meaning it pretty much uses one at a time even though both have good vision. This isn't a new thing, I kind of knew this but was told that everyone has a dominant eye so I didn't think anything of it. This also goes to explain why I have poor depth perception, wonky eye-hand coordination, and a complete lack of ability to play sports.

So that's why I can't catch a ball!

The good Doc told me she can tinker with it, but considering it only occurs 5% of the time I have to practice 'letting it go' to see if we can actually get a quantitative measurement so she knows how much to shorten it by. Additionally, I have to grab the camera every time it naturally goes astray. The Doc gave me 8 weeks to get this and my childhood file together and bring it to her for an assessment.

Overall, this is good news, right? Sadly, this has caused me a lot of pain. I've had to stare at my strange self in the mirror, trying to make my face look the way I hate it looking. I actually run away when I get it right. I've also been reaching for a camera every time I feel it off, or Tom will say "Oh look, your eye!" and run to grab the camera. These times especially hurt, because at these times I didn't even know it was off, and this makes me think it is off more often than I thought. All of this to say...well...I have had to dwell on the fact my eyes don't line up. Dwell. Record. Practice. Take pictures. Make an entire album of wonky eyeballs. A whole album of close-ups of wonky eyeballs. Constant reminders of the imperfection of my one appreciated facial feature.

I have my follow-up appointment this coming Monday. I haven't practiced over the last few weeks because I was driving myself nuts when I did. Tom hasn't reached for the camera in weeks because, through the lens zoomed up close, he sees his wife's eyes welling up with tears...His heart breaks. "No, no! Take a picture." I say. "We need to add it to the album."


This issue of vain...Do I just leave it? Will it be more beneficial to accept than tinker? What if the Doc miscalculates? What if the Doc takes this 'choice' away come Monday and tells me she can't do it because she can't get a measurement because I couldn't stand to stare myself in the face. Should I just cancel Monday morning and reroute this time I spend preoccupied with my loathed characteristic to do something more valuable, something that actually matters instead of a silly misaligned eye?

You can tell me, but I may not be looking at you.

18/03/2009

Today, I became a somebody

I was finally granted my Quebec citizenship today, after months of paper-work and bureaucracy. Seriously, if the process was any more rigorous, we wouldn't have even been living here anymore by the time it came through. Sheeshk!

16/03/2009

This time, it's personal!

The slogan for this year's World Vision 30Hour Famine.



Hunger and poverty are two things that I'd consider myself pretty passionate about. I'm also a fan of the work of World Vision. So, you can probably see why I'm a fan of the 30hour famine.


Will you please consider sponsoring our hunger?


We, along with a fantastic crew of youth, are trading 30hours of our passion for 30hours of their hunger, in an effort to connect those who want to help to those who need the help. No donation is too small. Would you please consider donating $5? I'll e-mail you our address...even feel free to take off $0.54 for postage and we will still put you down for $5! But, just so you know, only donations over $20 are tax receiptable.

This year, it's personal for us because of "Phearady's Story". It is a heart wrenching story about a little 11-year old girl in Cambodia. She lives in Phom Pen's slums and works for a brick factory. When we were in Cambodia, I was able to visit slums near her, and the impact of that trip was huge. When we were in Cambodia we also built a chapel out of bricks identical to the ones Pearady works with. Maybe Phearady made those bricks we used, when she 'should' have been at school. Life isn't fair.


Video of Phearady to come.

Baldo

Some people aren't nice.



This is Baldo, someone seriously shaved him down before ditching him at Montreal's SPCA.
Now he has a cold.
I can't imagine why.
And yes, we named him ourselves.

15/03/2009

New Blogsite for Costa Rica Mission

Just a heads up that our site dedicated to Costa Rica details is up and running (although will be under construction for some time yet); I invite you to check it out. There may not be anything there that you don't already know, but you are more than welcome to come brows.

The idea behind the site is to ensure that those who are just looking for Costa Rica details are not bombarded with our weak form of additional entertainment on this site, and to ensure that those who read this site aren't bombared with Costa Rica detials that they may not care about.

Everyone's happy then, right? :P

13/03/2009

Chocolate

As mentioned in a previous post, for lent I have 'sacrificed' chocolate. It has helped me realize a few things: the amount of times a day I think about indulgence and simple pleasures when I should be thinking and dreaming about more valuable things. About how carelessly I make choices that affect and are inflicted on others, how my actions are a driving force for markets and exploitation.

I think about chocolate a lot, which has translated into Jesus a lot and what we are to do and the responsibilities we have. I remember a presentation in my Nutrition in Developing Countries course that highlighted the brutality and shocking reality behind chocolate. This is something I wasn't aware of. Completely oblivious too. Well, low and behold, over the past few weeks I've drawn to look into the reality behind chocolate, which has translated into a reminder that our consumerism choices, the most innocent and ignorant choices we make at the retail store, can be a driving force in third world countries for exploitation and human trafficking.

I hope you find this as shocking as I do. I hope you will join me in making simple choices that will support fair trade and not exploitation and traffiking of the poor. Trafficking means slavery. Child slaves. For my tasty cheap thrill of a 99cent candy bar. We don't have to do grand things or devote our lives to ending this, we can simply make choices that either support or hinder these 'markets'.

11/03/2009

Say thank you, then ask for direction.

When you wake this morning, it's still dark outside. Your eyes burn at the thought of opening, your head already begs for more sleep. Ugh. It's time to get up and face the day. UGH!

The husband shuts off the alarm, electricity turns on the light, you remember you have to pay the hydro bill. The coffee perks and one of the biggest decisions of the morning is which cereal you are going to eat. You groan at the thought of your 8:30 class, hearing the bed calling you to cuddle for a few more minutes, and the rain smacks up against the window.

Praise the Lord, for He is generous!!! I have a husband, amenities, money, caffeine, food, and education.


I didn't wake up to face a day of hardship, loss, grief, hunger, labour, or abuse. I don't have AIDS, have to carry water, scrub cloths by hand, or contemplate whether I will have to sell my eldest daughter in order to feed the family. I don't have a husband that cheats only to end up bringing home deadly disease. He doesn't hit me, or drink our little money away. I feel love and support from those around me, am excited about my future, and content with my past.

I have billions of blessings, too many to count and far more than I will ever realize. But the point is not to sit here and smile to myself and think 'Wow, I'm lucky!', but to honestly thank the Good Lord, and ask him what he wants me to do with it. Because although my morning coffee, daily reads, and adorable husband make me feel content and all warm inside; they have no everlasting value and actually do squat for anyone else.

05/03/2009

Oh no! Our roots are showing...

We always assumed Montreal wouldn't be permanent. We knew it would be the city that we'd grow in our new marriage. We knew it would provide us with experience and education to tackle whatever lay ahead of us.

We never got super attached to our apartment (although with our last one, we came close), we were pretty good at sticking to our selfish selves, and taking part with what suited our fancy and leaving the rest. Yup, we were the center, and it worked for us.

But then, oh then, we had this draw and a brilliant idea to get involved. We realized we were taking more from our church than we are giving back, that we need to 'do on to others,' that we needed to love outside our small circle of family and friends and live more outside our comfort zone.

And now what do I see?

ROOTS!!!!

We tried to make sure this wouldn't happen but then, when we weren't looking, it did! We have roots. Our lives have been incredibly enriched. And now we have a problem.

We have friends here, we have a church family. We have youth that have begun to rely on us and grow with us. Last Friday when we were out at Montreal's 30Hour Famine Kick Off Rally, Tom was talking to one of the 15 year old boys who really look up to him. When T told him we were off to Costa Rica this fall, the boy wasn't happy for us at all. He just stared blankly back..."But you're coming back, right?" Umm...

My best girlfriend...I've watched her son grow from 6 weeks to 6 months. Her and I have battle through classes together, and survived most. We are the only two marrieds in our 'cohort'. We love it. I was one of the first privileged to know that she is already carrying her second child; I found out a week after she did. Three weeks before her mother. The baby is scheduled to arrive in August, the month that I will be wrapping things up here.

We were hanging out with the youth leaders discussing how we can make next year's retreat even better than this year's was...But we won't be here for it.

We know the transit system and (most of the important) metro stops by heart. We know where to get bargains on groceries, and which Value Village is the best. We have WestJet's flights memorized, we are able to give great tours of this magnificent city. Oh heck, I received a letter in French from the government yesterday and was able to read it and understand.

When did this happen?
When did our lives become so intertwined with others', and love it?
What are we going to do? Buy an ax?

02/03/2009

What a romantic surprise.

The Final Midterm

I try not to think about these things, but I realize that the mid-term I'm writing today may be the last one I write. Ever.

Ah!!

I'm so used to being a student; I've been a student for so many years that I've become a professional one. Now that Tom tells me I won't be in school for ever, which shocked me, I'm already starting to mourn the loss of classes and grades. Imagine, having evenings to ourselves! No supervisors breathing down my neck, demanding unrealistic deadlines (oh, wait, maybe that one will still be around), no GPA... Life will be so strange.

Honestly though, it's time. I'm tired of going to class, really. Lately I've been enjoying my project more than classes, which is neat to see considering all my classes are right up my alley. I've learned what you are supposed to have learned in a masters program (but no way have mastered it though, I suppose): how to think critically, question your sources of information, and research the answer. Then, ultimately, come to the conclusion that no conclusions can be drawn. lol!

So, yeah, only 6 more weeks of classes (sniffle!).
Only 6 more months of university (gulp!).
Six months may seem long to you, but after 6 years, it's quite short.

Let the learning continue! (yay!, sniffle)
Let this era come to a close! (yay!, sniffle)


Mixed emotions, can you tell?