Monday, February 18, 2008


About this time each year, I get anxious. I start planning my summer - heading to Costa Rica - and try to make it work financially in my head. It doesn't. It never does. But always works out. I know the provision will come...but my human mind still suffers the anxiety, knowing that it doesn't "make sense".

In other news, read "A Thousand Splendid Suns" - you will be thankful.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The thing about roses...

I've finished with UMA #3...and have come out better for it.

My mind has been swimming all day, the last three days, with thoughts planted by people who work full time downtown Vancouver in various capacities.

Friday afternoon, I was privileged to take about 30 of the students to a workshop by PEERS Vancouver (standing for Prostitutes Empowerment and Educations Resource Society). I bring a group every UMA to hear these ladies (who were once sex-trade workers) share their stories, and the students are always impacted.

These women found themselves in the trade (often by the age of 12 or 13). By grace, they made it out. Someone gave them a way out. And now today they help others do the same.

While this is obviously, by nature, an emotional workshop, something happened on Friday that I still can't put my finger on; somehow, in some way, there was an even stronger connection than the "usual". I noticed that it was not just myself that felt it, as I noticed a number of students lingering...even though we had told them it was time to leave. A number also approached these ladies, thankfulness on their lips, but not exactly sure what else to say, not even sure that there was more to say, asking if they could offer a hug - it just seemed appropriate.

I have been reflecting the last couple of months on the fact that "story" is something that connects and binds us together. We find a united understanding in story. We can relate to story. It resonates in us. It sticks with us. I can't for the life of me remember three-point sermons, or the table of elements, or the description of a trapezoid; I can recite for you other's stories.

On Friday, Cee Jai and Ty shared with us the most precious thing they could - their stories. In amongst Cee Jai's, was the time she was on Pickton's farm, a place where many women lost their lives, and she ran. She ran for her life, and she got it. Today she helps others, and I believe without a doubt that she was saved with purpose.

There was also an addition to her story; knowing that we were a group of Christians, Cee Jai shared her experience with Christians when she was on the streets. I have to admit, I was expecting her to share a negative experience that she had had. I guess I'm getting a bit cynical.

Instead, she shared a time in which a couple of youth, probably about the same age as our students, walked up to her one cold night, and offered her a rose. They lit a candle, and offered to pray for her. She said that for this moment, after hours of standing, having pennies thrown at her, being sworn at, and used, she felt that someone had recognized that she was a person, a fellow human being. She was astounded. Some 10 years later, this is still imprinted on her mind.

I shared with my students today, how this moment, this weekend, put me in my place. You see, I doubt the effectiveness of such acts. I pair our students with organizations that hand out sandwiches, and as I send them off, I wonder, "Isn't there a better way?" I do believe there is.

But I also have learnt that in the meantime, not doing anything is not the better way. My first year at CBC, I was one of these people who wandered into the "low end", and handed a rose to a sex-trade worker. I, along with two others, offered to pray for her. And then I went on with life.

Since then, I have recently been known to share with others that I think that was one of the stupidest things we could have done. Wasn't it belittling? Wasn't it pointless? Weren't there better options?

And then there's Cee Jai's story. It humbled me.

Steve Klassen came on Thursday night to open our time in Vancouver. He shared on the first two books of Mark...but before he started he said, "You just never know what God is going to do." As soon as Cee Jai shared the story of the rose, that was all I could hear in my head..."You just never know...You just never know" I felt as though God was saying, "Kathleen, YOU, my dear child, you don't know what I am capable of."

There's a million other things I could write about...but I think this will do for now. I am again, reminded, changed, and blessed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Eastside Take 3.

Urban Mission Adventure Number Three.

I am exhausted, and I haven't even left yet. But hey...I have to say that I'm really looking forward to taking another group of students downtown Thursday - Sunday. I'm excited to see changes in their perspectives and growth in their attitudes. Who knows what could result in opened eyes...