Desperate to go to school

I recognize that even in the most developed nations, schools aren’t perfect. After all, they are a reflection of the society that they’re a part of and are heavily influenced by the political ideologies and trends of the day, but imagine having to sneak your child into school to give them a chance at an education of any sort.

Started in 1983 by George and Jean DeTellis, New Missions has established 35 churches and schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic that provide approximately 10 000 children with education, a wholesome meal each day, and medical care. Tim DeTellis, George and Jean’s son, grew up on the mission field in Haiti and now serves as president of New Missions. Yesterday Tim posted a video update on his Facebook page that touched my heart and today I want to share his plea with you.

In the video (which I was unfortunately unable to post here) Tim speaks of the fact that parents were going out and finding school uniforms and putting them on their children so that they could slip into class to receive the benefit of education as well as the gift of food and medical care. “Why? Because these children and their families are that desperate,” says Tim. When these unregistered children came to the attention of the school personnel, rather than turning them away, they welcomed them. “Now we’ve registered them and in the last six months, to our astonishment, we have increased our enrolment by 1000 children!” he goes on to say.

We all know that education is not free. Here in Canada and in many other developed countries, public schooling is paid for almost entirely by our taxes, but what of countries like Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere? Who will provide the resources to educate the 1000 new enrolees in New Mission schools? Perhaps you can help.

How? It’s simple. Go to newmissions.org, click on Donate, and give to the Life of a Child fund to help unsponsored children or if you’re willing to make a more long term investment, link up with an individual child through child sponsorship. For just $33 a month you can provide one of these desperate children with an education, a hot meal each day, and regular medical care.

We started sponsoring Marie Kethsia in 2004 when she was nine years old. This spring, in a country where only 2% of the children finish high school (Haitian schools have 13 grades), she graduated! Now she’s enrolled in a 3 year lab tech program which will equip her to be a self-supporting contributor to her family and her community. We couldn’t be prouder!

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Over the years, we enjoyed exchanging letters and watching Marie grow into the beautiful young woman that she is today. Imagine my delight about a year and a half ago when I received a Facebook friend request from her! Though her English is weak and my Haitian Creole is non-existent, we manage to communicate on a regular basis without the benefit of the New Missions staff who translated our many letters over the years.

We took on our second New Missions child early last year when I decided to give Richard a boy for his birthday!

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Rodolson had his ninth birthday earlier this month and is in Grade 3. In his last letter to us, he wrote “I like school and I always study my lesson.”

For approximately $1 a day, you too could give the gift of school to one desperate child!

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Renewal By Grace… hope for hurting wives

Renewal By Grace

About sixteen months ago, because of my involvement in similar ministries in the past, I was asked if I would consider helping put together a brand new online series for wives who are experiencing the heartache of their husbands’ past or present sexual betrayal. For more than a year, I’ve been working with a small group of similar minded women around the world to write and edit this new program. It’s been a long journey, but a very rewarding one and I’m delighted to announce that Renewal By Grace is finally up and running!

I would define sexual sin as any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship. That could include adulterous affairs as well as other forms of infidelity including the use of pornography and masturbation for personal gratification. The emotional trauma that wives experience when they discover that their husbands have been engaging in these kinds of behaviours is often beyond description, but there is help and there is hope.

Given the secretive nature of sexual sin, exact figures are impossible to establish, but the numbers are overwhelming. If you are a wife who is hurting as the result of your husband’s sexual sin, you are not alone and I would urge you to consider signing up by clicking on the link in the first paragraph above. Renewal By Grace is a private place for you to find peace and understanding. You will work your way through a series of 100 short devotional lessons designed to help you find renewal, healing, and hope through the stories of real wives who have experienced many of the same thoughts and feelings as you. You can read one lesson each day or move through the program at whatever pace suits you best.

When you register with Renewed By Grace, you will be offered the option of having a prayer partner who will read your responses and give you feedback as she walks alongside you and offers you support. Each of these women has walked in your shoes and experienced your pain. Each has received training to prepare her to provide godly support and encouragement to the women she partners with. All correspondence between participant and prayer partner is completely confidential.

We need some politically incorrect weather!

I hate to be one to whine about the weather, but when you live in farming country and a prolonged wet spell like we’ve been experiencing lately occurs in the middle of harvest, it adversely affects the mood of the entire community. Early snow blanketed much of the province last week bringing harvest to a halt. Extended exposure to heavy, wet snow or rain will adversely affect the quality of the grain. We desperately need warm, windy weather to dry the crops and the muddy ground so that the heavy harvest equipment can get back into the fields. Livelihoods depend on it. We need what has long been known in this part of the world as Indian summer!

The question I’ve heard asked several times lately is “Can we even use that term anymore?” Is it politically correct to use the title Indian summer? After all, it’s no longer acceptable to refer to the aboriginal people of North America as Indians. In the US, they are Native Americans and in Canada, First Nations.

Clearly, there are terms, such as Indian giver for a person who gives something away and then takes it back, or Indian time which implies that aboriginal people are always late, that are culturally offensive, but what about Indian summer? Is it derogatory to call that beautiful period of warm, dry weather that often occurs in late autumn Indian summer? And if not Indian summer, what should we call it?

The origin of the term is somewhat hazy. Its first recorded use appears to have been in Letters From an American Farmer, a 1778 work by French-American soldier turned farmer, J.H. St. John de Crèvecoeur. There are many references to the term in American literature in the following hundred years or so. There have been many guesses made as to why the phenomenon was referred to as Indian summer, but no one knows for sure. There is, however, no evidence to show that it was ever intended or used in a negative or insulting manner. There are those who claim that because the term refers to a short period of summer-like weather that comes after that season appears to have ended, it like Indian time, implies that native people are always late. I would argue that that appears to be a recent interpretation, probably dreamt up by those who want to prove that the phrase is politically incorrect.

I recognize that many injustices have been committed against our indigenous people. I am as horrified as anyone else by the unspeakable horrors that today’s elders endured growing up during the residential school era. I am not, however, a slave to political correctness. Changing words doesn’t right old wrongs or heal old wounds. Yes, we need to be sensitive and aware of those occasions when what we say is truly hurtful. There are words and phrases that we should no longer use, but Indian summer? Personally, I think that anyone who claims to find that one offensive is simply looking for something to be contentious about.

So, politically correct or not, I’m going to say it. We need Indian summer!

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Squeezing in a bit more summer

Short summer

Seriously, where did the summer go? It really did seem to go by faster than ever. That’s probably because it was so late arriving this year. After all, there was still snow on the ground at the beginning of April here.

Though I’ve been retired from teaching for 11 years, most of my life was tied to the school year calendar. When the first of September rolls around, regardless of what the weather is like, I feel like summer has come to an end. For the past few weeks my teacher friends have been back in their classrooms making plans, decorating, and getting ready for new faces to fill the desks in front of them. The kids go back on Tuesday morning.

At this time of year, I’m often asked, “Do you miss it?” and my answer is always, “No!” Don’t get me wrong. I loved being a teacher and I still love children, but do I wish I was back in a classroom? Absolutely not! I wouldn’t trade the freedom of retirement for the best teaching job on the planet!

So what do retired teachers do when that school bell rings on Tuesday morning? Across the nation and around the world many of them will be gathering for their annual “to hell with the bell” celebrations! Me? I’m going camping just because I can! The days are getting shorter and noticeably cooler, but we’re going to squeeze in just a wee bit more summer before it’s too late.

 

A voice has been silenced

Neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) has claimed yet another world renowned figure and again many of the press reports are failing to report it accurately. I was saddened to learn this morning of the death of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, at the age of 76.

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Though many of the news reports are calling the cause of death pancreatic cancer, it really wasn’t. That would be exactly like saying that I have colon cancer because my primary neuroendocrine tumour is located in my colon. According to a family statement, the “official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.

A powerful voice has been silenced by a little known and insidious disease. We who suffer from the same disease need our voices to be heard. We need the medical profession and the population in general to be aware of NETS, to recognize the symptoms and to put more resources into the search for better treatments and ultimately for a cure. We do not need it to be misnamed and ignored.

 

Digital detox

After two weeks away from my computer and with very limited cell phone access, I’m home and back at the keyboard again. I was able to write my last two Fashion Friday posts in advance and schedule them to publish automatically while I enjoyed a much needed digital detox.

We spent the first week camping with our daughter and her family on the banks of the same lovely little creek at Botrell, Alberta that we visited with them last summer.

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Every now and then, we retreated under the awning or into the trailer when the sky began to rumble with thunder and it started to rain. One afternoon, about ten minutes of golf ball sized hail left us with damage to the awning and a hole in one of the skylights. Those will need to be replaced, but we patched them up with some awning repair tape and carried on.

Another day, we did the same hike at nearby Big Hill Springs Provincial Park that we did last year. A beautiful spot, it also has historical significance as the location of Alberta’s first commercial creamery as well as a failed attempt at a fish farm.

On the trail, our old knees had a hard time keeping up with the grandkids who ran up and down the hills like little deer!

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When they stopped long enough, it was a beautiful spot to get some great photos of them.

Time with these little people is always such a blessing!

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We spent our second week away from home at Camp Harmattan, the Church of the Nazarene campsite located in the valley of the Little Red Deer River between Olds and Sundre. There we enjoyed rich times of worship and prayer and sat under the teaching of two extremely gifted speakers. We also spent most of our afternoons relaxing and reading and evenings visiting around a campfire. What a blessed time of rest and rejuvenation!

Now we’re back in the real world, but feeling very refreshed by our time away.

 

The notion of “home”

When and where are you truly at home?

Except for short stints of five months to a year spent living in Asia, I’ve lived in the same small Alberta town for more than four decades, but there’s always been deep within me a yearning to be somewhere else, to be traveling, to see new places. The dictionary calls it wanderlust.

When I did live overseas for a time, it sometimes felt almost surreal. I remember walking the streets of Funabashi, Japan shortly after our arrival there and marvelling that this place, so foreign, so different, and yet so fascinating was actually my home. I lived there!

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Funabashi

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The view from our apartment

A friend who has been an expat for almost six years, living in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and now Mexico, recently said this: “I am very comfortable here, but every once in a while, say, once in six months, I will be out walking in my lovely colonial town, which looks nothing like what I grew up with, and all the sounds I hear are in a language which I did not grow up hearing, and it is like I am in some kind of strange dream place, and I wonder what is going on.” That got me thinking about the notion of “home.” What makes a place home and why is it that I always have that yearning to go somewhere else, to see someplace new?

I have a theory about why I feel this way. In the New King James Version of the Bible, 1 Peter 2:11 calls us “sojourners and pilgrims.” The New International Version translates it “foreigners and exiles.” The writer of Hebrews says that “we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14), “longing for a better country—a heavenly one. (11:16) At best, we are temporary residents here. We are pilgrims on a journey. While there is much to be experienced and enjoyed along the way, I believe that there is deep within me a longing for that eternal home. That, I believe, is the source of my wanderlust, the reason that I could probably settle almost anyplace and yet not truly feel at home anywhere.

Interestingly, I was in the middle of sorting through my thoughts and had already started writing this post when I attended the funeral of a long time resident of our small community. Though she was only 71 years old, the lady who passed away had suffered debilitating illness and endured a great deal of pain in the final years of her life. In his message, entitled “Home Sweet Home”, the pastor told us of her readiness to go “home.” He referred to 1 Corinthians 5:1. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Our bodies are but tents, temporary dwellings! Like refugees, we live in them until the time comes when we can go to a more permanent home.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in any hurry to vacate my tent! In fact, with the help of medical professionals, I’m doing everything I can to keep it intact. Though life is often far from easy, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy all that we’ve been blessed with during our sojourn here on earth and I’m in no hurry to see that come to an end! I’ll have all of eternity to enjoy my heavenly home. In the meantime, I will continue to wander this globe, perhaps never feeling quite at home, but marvelling at all the good things that this life has to offer.  There is, after all, a lot of world that I haven’t yet seen!