Just keep swimming.

 If you have followed this blog for awhile, these girls must look familiar to you. My friendship with them began 3 years ago when I moved to Pikangikum.

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The desire to keep to myself in the first few weeks of arriving in a new place is very strong. Especially when I don’t know anyone and I am the only black person for miles! Because of this, I push myself to do the very opposite of what my mind is telling me to do. I purposefully put myself out there and go make friends. It is with this determination to make friends that I walked over to their home unannounced, not quite sure how I would explain my sudden appearance. By the time I was at their doorstep I had decided to go with the typical greeting that everybody back home will use when they rock up announced, ” I have come to visit.” I wasn’t quite sure what to say after that but my determination to make friends was stronger than my fear to stay away.

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These girls decided they did not like me the moment they saw me. Their first reaction to seeing me was a lot of screaming, crying and hiding away. The panic lasted awhile but their grandmother was very accommodating and in the midst of the wails and calls for grandma to come to where they where we tentatively held a conversation of two people getting to know each other. I must have spent an hour in their home that day and thankfully by the time I left, the girls had calmed down completely. Even after they realised I was quite harmless, they would not come any closer to me. I  assured grandma I was not bothered and confidently told her, eventually, the girls would warm up to me.

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I made a point of visiting the family once a week, a month went by and the girl’s reaction remained the same. That month turned to two then three, rolled into four, passed five and still the girls would not accept me. On my part, I did not impose myself on them, I waited. It was sometime in my sixth month of knowing the family when the change occurred,  by this time grandma and I were very comfortable with each other. That afternoon, I walked into their home fully expecting the usual cries but instead, I was greeted with three toddlers joyously shouting my name, running towards me each clamouring to give me a hug. I was amazed. I knew there and then, I had just made life long friends.

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I have often times found that we long for the fruit that comes with genuine friendships but we cringe and hide away from the work that needs to be put into making community happen. Obviously, my case with these adorable girls is extreme but the lesson is still the same. Healthy, long-lasting relationships are hard work, there is just no way around it. Most times pursuing friendships takes patience, sometimes it is messy and occasionally the temptation to walk away is strong. The Bible shares an incident when one of Jesus friends asked him how many time he had to forgive his friend.The Bible does not give a back story to his question but I can only assume the man was deeply offended with his friend and wanted nothing more to do with him. Jesus answer raised the bar for any of his followers, his response to the question was, he had to forgive 70 times 7. In other words, you never stop forgiving and you never tire of loving.

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When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and pursued a friendship that you know would stretch you to the limit? Sometimes some of the best relationships are made when we courageously step out in faith even when we are afraid and have no control of the outcome.

confessions

 

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The very rare occasions when I unleash the beast and she does as she pleases.

 

It all started several days into my trip back home, my dear sister in law and I were chatting about all black women’s favourite topics, hair care. I was feeling a tad bit proud of myself as we talked because I had successfully gone three years of resisting the temptation of trying out some strange hair remedy. The only reason I had lasted so long was because with my last experiment my hair had literally fallen out in chunks … shudder …

Jessi spoke in passing that her hair stylist often mentioned the miraculous powers of eggs in hair, and just like that, I was intrigued! Friend, you would think after my last experience with eggs that I would leave well enough alone but nope, that fiasco was a distant memory and I was quite confident this time around, it would be different, I would attain the holy grail of all black women’s desires when it comes to hair: silky soft to the touch, lush and luminous to the eyes!

So the next day armed with determination and visions of luxurious hair, I got the eggs out. My first mistake was doing this “treatment” when my mum was out, in the past, she has always been there to save my hair from myself. I should have waited for her return but I was so sure this time I would be the envy of the women in my family. My second mistake was completely forgetting to factor in the heat that day, it was 40C with 200% humidity ( yes, yes I know there is nothing like that but you get the idea)  I whipped two eggs in a plastic cup set it aside for ten minutes as I rummaged around for a towel in my sisters rather untidy room. Well unbeknownst to me, ten minutes was enough time for the eggs to start cooking whilst in the plastic cup next to the tub, that’s how hot it was! Before pouring the mixture ( I had added conditioner and olive oil) I smelt it and something told me the “treatment” didn’t smell right, ignoring my suspicions I forged on, pouring it into my hair. I was in it to win it, that silky hair was just 30 mins away.

As the smelly lumpy concoction slide down my face, it became quite apparent that my suspicions had been correct, the eggs had partially cooked. But I still refused to believe that was possible and even went as far as massaging the gunk deeper into my very thick and nappy hair. I finished the whole procedure by putting a bag over my head and letting the stuff stay in my hair for another 30 minutes. When it came time to wash my hair I was practically gagging, wondering who would do this to themselves?
I hurriedly tried to wash it out with cold water and that’s when I realised I had made my third mistake, in my excitement I had forgotten that the heat of the day had warmed up the pipes so that only warm and hot water was available. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, looking at my hair covered in scrambled eggs and all I could think of was how brutal my sibling’s reaction would be to my latest experiment. And oh how they laughed at me! I tried to wash the gunk out of my hair with more conditioner but to no avail. My hair stunk so bad for days and whenever I would comb it, white flecks would fall out. It didn’t help much that my brother took it upon himself to ask on a regular basis if I still had egg in my hair. With the memory of my family’s reactions planted firmly in my mind, I promised myself this was the very last time I would ever do that.Then Toronto airport happened.

On my return to Red Lake I had a four-hour layover in Toronto, in order to stay awake after a non-stop 17-hour flight ( with two toddlers screaming much of the way) I ambled around the airport and came across a store that sold hair products. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to take a peak. As I browsed through their products, I hit it off with the Indian lady at the till . With great animation, she started sharing with me all the wonders of using natural products in ones hair. You guessed right, eggs were on top of her list.

 

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I am going to behave myself and stay away from eggs …  but who knows … you know what they say, third time is a charm!

 

 

Sisters Keeper

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Creating community where ever God places me is one of my passions. A highlight for me this month occurred earlier today when my sister in law and I spent time reconnecting with girls I have known for many years. Some I have known for a little over 10 years. We sat for hours as all 20 of us shared the highs and lows of 2016. Some of the challenges they shared were; having to choose between staying at home uneducated or courageously attending night school and facing the constant risk of being sexually assaulted. One girl talked about the hardship of living with hunger as a steadfast companion because the family can only afford one meal a day.She candidly spoke of how difficult it was to concentrate in class on an empty stomach but remained determined to have the highest marks in class, of which she did. All shared their deep frustrations of dealing with teachers willing to fail an entire class unless each one pays a small bribe. A few spoke of either praying on their own or with their friends, asking God to help them pass because they had no money to pay the bribe the teacher demanded. Prayers that were answered.

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For some challenges, we had ready answers. One was creating study groups amongst themselves in order to encourage one another to keep studying and also to help those that are struggling in certain subjects. I noticed several things as the girls shared, they all have a very strong desire to excel in school, most of their problems revolved around getting an education.And, all of them ended their sharing time with a hopeful outlook of the future, with dreams of being lawyers, teachers, nurse or doctors.

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The teenage years here are especially hard on girls, not only do they have boys their age relentlessly pursuing them for sex, grown men unashamedly do the same. In my opinion, if a girl reaches her teen years unable to see herself as valuable and worth respecting and no one helps her realise this truth, it doesn’t matter how intelligent she is, she will fall prey to boys and men who care nothing for her well being.
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With this particular group of girls, we have some who are done with college, some applying to enter university and many more in different stages of high school. My hope and prayer is for them to continue looking out for each other, life is hard but if you have a few friends who genuinely care for you, burdens become easier to carry and hope never stops rising.
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May Hope continue to rise for you too in this new year!

Family

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My brother and his wife dancing to one of their songs.

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Game time.

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When your little sister is a chef and she decides to grace us with her amazing skills! It’s only natural to take as many pictures as possible of her creativity and work.

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There is no place like home. I love my family.

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Parents, siblings, cousins and friends.Coming home for Christmas was the best gift my friend could have given me. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and may you have a great entry to the new year.

My little pony

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One of my highlights whilst visiting friends in Southern Ontario was watching my friends daughter at riding school. She is five years old and the youngest at the school but from what I saw (even though I don’t know much about all things equestrian), she has incredible poise and confidence with Cassey her riding pony.

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Cassey is more like a medium sized horse than an average pony and enjoys to nip people in their rear anytime she feels inclined to. I was told that even though she is far from the most powerful, graceful and even beautiful in the stable she has the bossiest attitude towards her fellow compatriots. I am sure it does not surprise you that the other horses loudly make their displeasure known each time she walks passed them, not like it bothers her one bit. Compared to Cassey, Isla is pint-sized but had no qualms making it clear to Cassey who was boss the moment she was riding her. It was a delight watching Miss Fearless, I guess Cassey found her match!

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P.S I should have been flying home by now but I had problems at the airport yesterday. Thankfully I got a new ticket for Thursday, nothing short of a miracle!

On your marks … 

 So tomorrow my journey begins, a day in Thunder Bay followed by a weekend pit stop in Toronto. Then it’s a hop and skip through Germany and Portugal. Final destination is running from the car into my parents house to escape the heat, sitting on the cool wooden tiled floor of the living room getting my hair did by my mom as I chat with my sister in law. All the while watching my sisters shamelessly plunder my suitcases for presents and laughing at my brothers jokes with my father occasionally interjecting with his.  Not forgetting acquainting myself with the crazy dog my dad decided to buy. What’s her name again?

I will be home for Christmas. 

That blanket is everything to me when I travel.

Two months ago a dear friend gave me the best Christmas present to date, a ticket home for Christmas. Ecstatic doesn’t quite describe how happy I am, I have not spent the last two Christmases home.