Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
So, is "awkward" as bad as we make it out to be? I kinda think it's a necessary part of life; something we've tried to give a negative connotation, but really deserves a second chance.
I dare you to put yourself in an awkward situation this week....it's good for the soul.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This semester, to be perfectly honest, has been a hard one. I am now working two jobs that just last year were two full time jobs, and now are one full time job. I'm making it work. I don't think the students are getting the quality care that they normally would...but I'm making it work.
However, I find these days that I do a lot of tasks. I make lists, I check them off. I assign papers, I receive papers, I mark papers, I return papers. I see a lot of paper, and consider planting some trees outside as a tribute to that paper. I receive emails. I send emails. I write up letters, and then change the name, and send them, over and over and over again. I stop mid-sentence and remember things that I have to do. I wake up at 4 in the morning, and think of a task that I need to do the next day. I think you get the point.
So, I took 50 students into Vancouver for the first Urban Mission Adventure (UMA) of the year almost a month ago to learn about the world in our backyard, to meet our neighbours, otherwise known as poverty and wealth, with full hopes on my part, that their presuppositions would be shattered. I set up appointments with organizations, with speakers, with churches, and sent them on their way. I made sure they had leaders, and food, and maps, and transit tickets, and phone numbers, and emergency quarters. I made sure they returned to the hostel at night, and that they got up in the morning. I made sure that they were interacting with people on the street, with people at the organizations, with people in their own groups.
The by-product of being the head honcho of this thing, is that while I do all of this, I don't get to do what they get to do anymore. Once you become "in charge" you really don't, well, "do the stuff" anymore. And I have to admit, I returned home from Vancouver, drained. The students returned with stories, with life-changing moments, with new ideas about what the church is and what the church is supposed to do. And I returned with dirty laundry and a bunch of papers to mark.
You see, dear reader, that while usually someone who is good at administration is really a strong "task" personality...I am not. I have this blend of task and relationship-focused personality, for whatever reason, and so while I achieve at administration, it also runs me dry. I need the people. I yearn for people. I need to talk and listen and interact. I need to touch a shoulder, shake a hand, look into someone's eyeballs. Yes, I need human contact, such as that I'm teaching my students to run towards, and not to shy away from.
And so we come to my really great story. (You've made it this far...you can do it!)
The Thursday after this trip into Vancouver, I went to chapel, like I would on any normal Thursday. About 15 minutes into chapel, while we were all standing there singing, a gentleman burst in the doors, and headed straight for the chair next to mine. He was a tall man, wild gray hair, wearing many layers, and one of those thick "London Fog" coats, you know, the wool ones. He smelled of cigarette smoke, and a little bit of whiskey. His eyes were large and friendly...and also a little bit wild, to match the hair.
I saw him coming a mile away out of the corner of my eye, and I knew he would sit next to me. We stood, he sat. We sang, he was quiet. I kept glancing out of that same corner of that same eye, just checking in with him. Most men who come off the street are usually quite jittery; formal settings like our chapel tend to mess with them a bit, and to be honest, I fully expected him to walk out after a few minutes. But when I looked, I realized he was calm, sitting still, and weeping silently. And so I let him have his moment.
After a while, chapel ended. One of my UMA students, having recently walked the streets of Vancouver, talking to the "outsiders" of society, wandered over and introduced himself...and then headed to class. Now knowing the man's name, as he had reciprocated the introduction, I turned and said, "So, John*, how'd you find out about chapel?" (*I've changed his name to protect him...cause I want to)
John turned to me and said, "well, I went to go buy a coke in the cafeteria, and I asked the girl, 'when is chapel here?' and she replied, 'right now!', so I came!" Fair enough, I decided, though that had been more of a literal explanation than I was expecting.
I was considering what to ask next, when he pointed to the front of the chapel, and looked at me, "you know, I remember standing up at the front of this chapel and sharing my story; I was a student here, you know? Back in '72. Came for a year."
Suddenly, John was not just "some homeless guy" who came off the street into chapel. John was a fellow alumnus; a certificate-yielding biblical studies student; one who had walked the same halls that I did, and sat in the same classes, and even was influenced by some of the same men who had taught him, and then some 30 years later, taught me.
And so we sat and chatted for a while. He shared his story with me; I shared some of my story with him. He described all the different jobs and roles he has played in life. He explained that he is writing three books right now, and had just given up everything he had in another province to return to Abbotsford. He was sleeping on the street. He was looking for work. He was looking for community.
I offered to pray for him, and he accepted. I shared with him some of the resources in the community that he could connect with, should he want the help. He accepted the advice, and I, recognizing that I'd done what I could for the time being, let him know that I needed to get back to those papers, to those emails, to those tasks. I invited him to return to chapel, and he smiled, and said he'd like to come.
That afternoon, I realized that, knowing how many of the staff had seen this man come and sit next to me, and knowing that many of them would be "concerned" about the "homeless man on campus", I sought out those that would need to know what I knew, and so I first chatted with the Dean of Students. I told him that John was an alumni, and he gently laughed with doubt on his lips...but I told him I believed John. I have been duped before, I know, but there was something about John that I believed, and the things he said made sense, they were logical, they sounded right.
And so, I found my way to the library and with the help of the librarian, I located the yearbook of the class of 72. I opened the book, and I found John. He looked almost exactly the same. The crazy hair (though a different colour), the large eyes, the kind face.
I imagined what he was like as a student.
I imagined him being one of MY students.
John hasn't returned yet to chapel. I keep hoping he'll walk through that door, and make an entrance like he did before, and find the seat next to mine.
In the meantime, I cherish my interaction with John. I came out from under the pile of papers, and he gave me a little piece of myself back to me. He reminded me that I can "do the stuff". I don't just teach it, I believe it. I know it. I love doing it. And I needed that reminder.
Friday, October 02, 2009
To all my faithful blog readers (i.e. Joy, Heidi and Christa), new fun story coming as soon as I have time to write it...it will be good, I promise!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Some days I really love my life. I love that I've been to Costa Rica 7 times. I love that I have another family there, that I've learnt enough Spanish to get by (I'm still working on it), and that I know how to drive from the airport in Alajuela to either the Pura Vida Missions base, or to my host family's house. I love that in Canada I live with Gary and Carleigh who treat me like their sister; their kids see me as just another part of their life. I love that Bodhi and I have our own special games, and that Charlee loves whatever earrings I wear, and almost everyday tells me I'm beautiful.
I have to be honest though, that every once in a while, I think about that picture...what I thought life would look like...and I guess, I mourn that it isn't so. I think that's fair. For some, the picture comes together as they imagined. For others...we wait and try to focus on the joy in the places that we are.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Well, two nights ago, I came home from a long two days of work. I had joined our fourth year Intercultural Studies students on an overnighter, during which I had had to run back to the college to teach a Service Practicum class. That night, I was exhausted...but suddenly on my mind, I HAD to rearrange my room. And not tomorrow, or the next day, but right that moment!
So...Carleigh put her kids to bed and came downstairs and helped me with my task. She even took on the task of folding my clothes and organizing my closet. While we worked on my room, I mused over why I suddenly had this overwhelming notion that the room had to change. My conclusions? When life is busy, when work is chaos, I think I need to know that I have some control...somewhere. My room is one of those places where I can maintain control (for the most part).
So it all really comes back to being a control-freak...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Sunday, August 09, 2009
However, I want to say that seeing my friends, the ones that I DID spend my time with in high school, was so good. Because I come from a smaller town, many of these people I have known since elementary school. We have grown up together and share many experiences (even just the similarity of growing up in Courtenay). I feel safe with these people, and enjoy their company (even though it's not all too often that I see them).
So that's that. 10 years. In some ways we grow up and move on, and in others we are still the same 17/18 year olds who excitedly graduated into "the real world".
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
And while I of course got burnt (as per the usual routine), Mom kept under "cover"...
But first, we had to stop on the way to Jaco and say hi to the crocodiles.
The one on the right was HUGE. Remember that these pictures are taken from the top of a bridge...
That's it for now. Consider this your "snack" of Costa Rica for today :)
Friday, May 08, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
You know those moments when someone comes to you, and is talking to you about something that isn't really first priority on your list (which, by the way, has a lot of items on its agenda, none of which are what this person is talking to you about), and they just talk and talk, and you have this moment where you almost laugh out loud because they just keep talking, and you're really just ready to LOSE IT!??
Well, I don't have those moments all too often anymore - I've learned to focus, and remember to value relationship over task, and learnt that in most other cultures, there is no timeline...which is a great lesson, one which I almost always remember...until the end of the semester hits.
It all comes back.
I have to really say that I'm truly sorry for those of you on the other end of this. And also, please remember that I'm human and that while being an only child is not a sin, there can be some negative consequences sometimes (as with all states, but somehow the state of being an only child is more obvious...).
Therefore, the following post may reflect some of my recent annoyances and anxieties...and while I may write a retraction in two weeks time, having regained my senses, I hope that the majority of this is truth.
So we begin...
(and you thought THAT was the beginning!)
As you can tell from my last few posts, I'm thinking about a lot of things. Big things. Topics of materialism, greed, consumption, hunger, global politics, and my role as little ole me. Some days I get overwhelmed with it all.
I read rants by some of our students, and I hear a lot of bitter attitudes towards what "we" are. North America. Bible College. Students, academics, graduates, with too much money, too much debt...too much. And then I get overwhelmed with that.
There needs to be some middle ground. We can't stop talking, but we also can't condemn everything...otherwise people won't listen to what we're talking about. I read something the other day that was a bit of a rant on North American culture, and I immediately stopped listening...even though I agree with it. But I'm just kinda fed up. Filled up. Tired of eating the same thing.
I'm reading "Jesus for President" right now - written by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. Excellent book. Page 153 features the following statement: "The greatest sin of political imagination: thinking there is no other way except the filthy rotten system we have today. Is it possible we can't see the destructiveness of our economy, not because we don't know it's terrible, but because deep down, we feel that it's necessary and that therefore it's hopeless to criticize it?"
The problem is bigger than what we can solve by ourselves...little ole me and you? On our own? We can't go too far. But then I watched the best documentary I've seen in a long time: "Garbage Warrior" in which one man saw a new way, and gathered others to him who shared the vision that he cast. And it took a lot of fighting. It wasn't easy, and it's still not fully accepted....but he's doing it anyways. The most ironic part? His work is fully accepted in 3rd world countries, where disaster has struck and completely fought against in the US. What does he do? This man builds homes out of garbage. And it's brilliant. He calls them "earthships" because they look a little out of this world, but are really made of it. (see below). I would tell you all about it, but I think the documentary does a much better job, so just go and watch it instead, ok?
But that brings me to this point. I looked at the calendar in my office today and saw a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
So this is my challenge. I need to keep learning, to keep seeking, to keep talking...but I need to find a way to speak that will seduce the reader to keep reading. To not turn away, or become overwhelmed. But I also need to recognize that it takes a fight, whether outwardly or inwardly. My own disability of annoyance and anxiety need to be dealt with. I must hear in order to speak. I must stop in order to go.
And these days my biggest enemy?
Myself...at the end of the semester.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the danger in taking risks. Taking risks means that I just might fail. Failing scares me sometimes; mostly it scares me because I'm worried about what people will think when I actually fail (gasp). The truth is, I fail in little ways all the time - that's how I know I'm human. If I stop taking risks for sake of being scared to fail...what all will I miss out on? I believe that there is much more to gain from taking risks than to lose.
So what does this mean for me today? I don't know...
...but I'm thinking about it!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Basil the Great (Bishop of Caesarea, 365)
Lately I have been thinking about this a lot. I desire a simpler life...one in which I spend less time thinking about myself and more of others. One in which I recognize just how much I have, and thinking in terms of what I need, rather than want.
This summer I will spend some time in Costa Rica, not as much as usual, but some time. The rest of my summer, I prayerfully have decided that I will not necessarily pursue full-time work, but rather rest and take work as it comes. I will trust that God will provide...
Right now, about every other day, I have a mild panic attack about this. I start to think, "how on earth can this happen? Will I make enough money to survive? What if I overspend and end up with no money by the end of the summer?" And then...I remember that God is teaching me. He is my Provider.
I have been thinking on Proverbs 30...
"O God, I beg two favours from you before I die. First, help me never tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name."
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs...
Could you imagine if North America lived this way? What would our economy look like today? What would the rest of the world look like?
While the nation of Israel wandered in the desert, God provided daily for their food...manna from heaven. And yet, some doubted that He would continue to provide and so tried stockpiling their bread. And what happened? The maggots came and destroyed the stockpiles.
Perhaps that is what we are facing today in the North American economy. We've been greedy and tried stockpiling...and now we face the infestation of maggots. Should we be so shocked that this isn't working?
We talk of helping people around the world...which is wonderful. However, we tend to think of helping them so that they can "live like we do." The truth is, WE can't even live like WE do...it doesn't work...it's not sustainable. Greed is not sustainable. Ghandi said it: "there is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed".
May I learn how to live selflessly.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Yesterday, while many men scurried around the city looking for last minute flowers and chocolate, I, along with about 400 others, said good bye to one great man. Together we celebrated the life of George Schmidt. And I miss him.
This last year, we also said good bye to another great man, John Schmidt. Cancer claimed both of their lives. No, let me restate that. Jesus claimed their lives...cancer ended them. John, whose role in "pastoral care" at CBC, continued to write me emails of encouragement, even in his retirement. These emails always came at the most important times. George, who, in one of his last acts as "Dean of Students" at CBC, hired me as a Residence Director 5 years ago, and convinced me that I was able, even when I didn't think I was. He was so determined to see me take the job that he offered me a solution to do both RD and ministry in Costa Rica. I pursued that model for 4 years.
While we grieve, these men are reconciled in the fullest sense. They live with God. Step in step. Full sight. Today I rejoice that I knew these two men...and that they took the time to invest in me.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
This is what I echo with today: