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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life in Limbo-What are You Waiting For?

I know, I just sent you a blog the other day, but I felt inspired to write.  So here we are.  I must also say that a lot of the time when I sit down to write I have only the first part in my head, and then my fingers seem to take on a life of their own.

Have you ever read the Dr. Suess book "Oh The Places You'll Go?" There's a part in it where he talks about a place called the 'waiting place'.  Feels a bit like that's where we are right now, waiting to head to the "Jungles of Nool" (a.k.a Brazil).   We can't go back, we've come to far, but we can't quite move forward, either. (really tempted to rhyme here!)

"Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting."-Dr. Suess

So, a quarter of the way there but still fully here we try to live day by day, minute by minute, stuffing as much life into our days as we can.  We try to visit and spend time with friends more than usual, with the 'I don't know if I will get another chance before we go' at the back of our minds.

It can be a difficult place to be in if you let it.  Frustrating not knowing if your coming or going. Unless you see it as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

What if we just always lived our lives like this, like we didn't know when we might not see friends and family again, squishing as much living into life as we could?  Savouring moments and afternoons and conversations.  Shouldn't that be the way we are all the time?

When someone dies, the first thing out of peoples mouths is often 'But...I just saw him".  How can someone be here and then not? It's hard to wrap our heads around isn't it?  And then there's that gnawing feeling of all the words unsaid and things undone the endless list of 'if only's'.

I want to encourage you to "Carpe diem", seize the day, every day, even if you are going to keep your feet firmly planted on your home soil all of your days.   Live like you are getting on a plane tomorrow and see how that changes your relationships, your perspective and your attitude towards the little things and the big things in life, are you still waiting?

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!"
-Dr. Suess

If you are still waiting, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forging New Paths

When I boarded a plane for Africa 13 years ago I was just 26 years young, untethered and free to explore the world as I saw fit.  I had a childhood dream that gnawed me into action because sitting still for any longer felt like it would eat a hole in me.  After all, what did I have to lose?  I wasn't married or in a relationship, I didn't have children, there was just adventure waiting for me and I was ready and willing to find it.

As I said good-bye to the family and friends who had made the trip to the airport for one last hug, my Dad took me by the shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said, "I have NO idea where you get this from!".

I was the last born but the first in my family to travel like this, to go anywhere outside of North America.  After having six children, my parents couldn't do much more than camp, with all of us at their ankles. 

There were two people who had a huge impact on my love of travel.  I had a teacher in college who loved to travel and figured out how to create a course around it.  We studied the culture, animals and customs of Guatemala and Belize for several months, reading and listening to each other share what we had learned and then spent three weeks there.  I will never forget the feeling of stepping into the airport in Guatemala, how the soupy air felt like it was something tangible you could touch or the heart wrenching site of small children in torn clothing with large brown pleading eyes, grabbing your hands and saying the few english words they had learned 'Please I am hungry'.

Another influence was one of my best friends, Michele (that's her in the right hand picture above on the left, wiping tears).  We worked together in a call centre in Toronto and she went on a safari in East Africa.   I watched her plan and make the trip happen and it took Africa from something far off and untouchable to something I could feel in the palm of my hand.  I saw a fork in the road I had never seen before and I decided to take it.  I would make Africa happen.

Sometimes the way we live our lives creates a path that our children will also follow, and sometimes they see another path and decide to take that one.  But, if there isn't someone or more than one person to show them there are other paths, they may never know they have a choice.  Now if you are raised in a healthy environment and agree with the way your parents raised you and you choose that for your family, great!  But let's say you weren't, let's say your Dad wasn't in your life and your mother was addicted to alcohol, prone to fits of rage and she hit you whenever she got the chance.  Let's say she had a boyfriend who came and went and when he was around he beat your Mom and snuck into your room at night. What if that was the only path that was laid out for you?  What if that was the only kind of life you saw around you? 

Then along comes this family from a far away place, they look so different from anyone you've seen that you can't help but be drawn to them.  Your curious, where are they from and why have they come to your town?  They say wonderful things to you, things even your own mother has never said.  They offer to teach you music, soccer and celebrate your birthday-no one has ever done that before!  They LOVE you.  They also talk about what love looks like, and how a family can look when they all love and respect  each other.   They start to help you understand that life can be different, they offer a choice, a different kind of life than you have seen but it's a good life.  

Aside from the practical, offering a model for a different kind of life is what missionaries do, on many levels and over the coarse of many years, these kids do make the decision to forge a new path for their own lives and for future generations.   

In another town, 13 hours down the dusty Transamazonian "highway" is a town called Altamira. 17 years ago Rick and Deanna Bergen started meeting with young children and youth in a dark neighbourhood notorious for it's crime, in their small garage.  Over the years the entire neighbourhood has changed as they loved and invested in the people of that community.  Those youth are now adults in solid marriages with happy children who will hopefully never have to experience the lives their parents came from.  Cycles have been broken.

This work in Brazil is not the kind where you will see huge changes over night, it is slow arduous work-but the rewards are so very worth it.

We are humbled to have the opportunity to serve these people and we hope you will feel moved to join our team.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a team to send a missionary and we need more team members!  Right now we are about 25% of the way to where we need to be for the green light to book tickets and apply for visas.  We still have a long way to go before January, but I know there are some of you who have been considering this, and have maybe made the decision but haven't let us know-could I ask if that sounds like you, could you let us know?  And if you haven't consider it, can you? You can either e-mail, call or click the link above to get started now on your monthly support.

Thanks again for reading, commenting and encouraging us on this journey we are so blessed to be surrounded by the family and friends we have.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Exactly Will We Be Doing?

This is a question that gets asked a lot.  The big picture, the vision is taking a community from pain and disfunction into healthy relationships and hope for a better, brighter future.  But every big picture starts with  smaller ones.  Investing in individuals.  But I can't really explain that as well as the kids who have actually lived it.  They've come through some terrible situations and some still live in them, homes where fear and physical abuse lurk around every corner and streets where gangs and violence are taking the lives of friends and relatives.  For them, the 14 acre property that the Maraba mission runs on is a safe haven where they can learn to play soccer or guitar, be mentored and feel a sense of belonging and that they are loved, unconditionally.

The specifics of what we will do are sometimes as mundane as baking for a bible study night or making food for the youth as they work to build a new roof for someone in the community.  It is about supporting the nationals as they are encouraged and built up to lead their families and their community into a new way of life.

While we were there last year I asked several of them if they would mind me recording them telling their story about life before and after the Maraba Vineyard came.  I have  put two of them in this short video clip.  Please watch it, I think it will give you a better idea of the impact this mission is having on these kids lives.