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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Introducing Alpha to Northern Brazil

While we were in England, we managed to arrange a meeting with the people who look after Alpha in Brazil.  We had amazing results.

For those who don't know what Alpha is, it is a weekly 'dinner and a movie' night that covers a new topic about Christianity each week.  The course is designed for those who have never been to church or those who've gone their whole lives.  It's down to basics, strip away the religion, what does it mean to have a 'relationship' with the creator of the universe, through His son Jesus.  You eat a great meal with people, watch the video and then discuss, ask questions, argue and bring up all the niggling thoughts or questions you've had about God.

People often ask, so what will YOU do in Brazil?  This is something I can sink my teeth into. 

Phil and I have both been involved in our churches Alpha course for several years and just love it.  The transformation you see in peoples hearts from the first day to the last is never disappointing.  Alpha was what started a life changing shift in our lives and we're excited to share it with people who desparately need it's lifegiving message.

When we met with the Brazilian Alpha co-ordinator and the South American Alpha liazon in London they were both very excited about what Xingu mission is doing and seeing Alpha starting up in the area, as there aren't any courses running that far north yet.  They gave us bags full of resourses in Portuguese and had the DVD set sent to us.

We are looking very forward to starting this ministry in Maraba and sharing with you the stories of lives changed.

One Way Tickets To The Amazon

We have one-way tickets purchased for September 10th.  We are six weeks away from departure day.

Our house is rented for two years.

We have reduced our worldly posessions that we will leave here in Canada down to 11 rubbermaid tubs and a printer.  Everything else has been sold or given away.

The site of our tubs all lined up on a shelf gave me mixed emotions.  WOW and wow.

When we came to Canada 10 years ago we had about the same amount of stuff and within two years we had amassed enough to fill a large moving van and several car loads, and now here we are back where we started.  Full circle.

The count down is on.  The packing of suitcases will commence shortly.

On that note: We are still in need of about 5 large (28" high) suitcases that can hold 70lbs worth of stuff.  If you have one you're willing to part with, could you let us know?

Monday, July 16, 2012

"I Am One of Nine"

"When someone asks me about my family I say, 'I am one of nine'".

As these words came out of my step-brother Ken's mouth, a thousand moments of our families lives over the past twenty-one years ran through my head.  As I looked up at the casket containing my step brother Kevin, the tears flowed freely again down my already wet cheeks.

He was only 49.  With little warning as he was setting up camp with his beloved children Sarah (15) and Nick (17) his heart failed and he fell to the ground.  Kevins death is a devastating blow to all who knew and loved him.

His brother Ken shared a story about a brush with death he and his younger brother had in their youth.  They collided with a dump truck full of gravel and had to be rescued by a fire fighter.  The fire fighter who pulled them from the vehicle was none other than my Dad-their future step-father.

My first memory of Kevin was meeting him in the hallway of my parents house, it was still under construction and we shook hands across a mound of carpet scraps.  My Dad was about to marry his mother, after a very short courtship.  I wasn't happy about this union, it was too much too fast as far as I was concerned having only been a year since my Mothers' death.

My Dad asked if I could give Kevin a ride back to Toronto, he was headed back to Ottawa and I was going home.  I said sure, and then wondered what on earth I would speak to this total-stranger-soon-to-be-my-brother about for an hour.  I needent have worried.

About thirty seconds into the trip after some small talk Kevin said, " do YOU feel about this whole thing?"  He didn't have to say what he was talking about.

I thought for a moment before I responded.  I had no idea how his family was feeling, his father had passed away more than two years ago, maybe they were ok with their Mom meeting a great guy like my Dad.

"Well, I think it's a bit soon" I said tentatively.
"I KNOW! SO DO I!!" Kevin exclaimed.

The rest of the hour felt like a giant exhale as we both aired all of our misgivings about the union of our two parents.  It was a huge relief to know I had an 'ally' on 'the other side'.  But the line between 'us' and 'them' didn't last long, nor did our feelings about the marriage.

The wedding went off without a hitch.  The night was so infused with joy that it lit the dark corners where sorrow used to live in my heart.  We sang the "Brady Bunch" theme and my brother Dan introduced everyone to his brother Kevin, and his other brother Kevin.  To see my Dad so happy was more than I could have hoped for him.  We were now one family.

Our large, sometimes loud and overwhelming to new comers family may not have been what any of us would have chosen all those years ago, but it's exactly what God knew we would need now.

I am one of nine, plus spouses, and children and grandchildren, in other words a really big loving family that I wouldn't trade for the world.

This coming weekend we will celebrate our twentieth year of gathering together to spend a weekend camping, playing games, hanging out at the beach and just being a family and remembering the one member who will be there in spirit.