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.

Times are changing

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There was a time when I didn’t value rest as much as I did work. It took a couple of burnouts, lots of reading and taking the time to listen to words of wisdom from others that I finally understood. Guarding my time of rest helps me perform better at everything else in my life. Progress has been slow but over the years I have got better at saying no to friends and not feeling guilty about it. There is still so much more I need to learn when it comes to resting and the art of being still. I am at least thankful that I pursue rest almost as much as I do serving others with excellence. One day I will get the balance just right.

Today I spent close to three hours at the local park, my mind and body enjoying the sun rays. As I walked to the park, I assumed that I would see lots of people out and about seeing as the sun has been hiding for over a week but that was not the case. Maybe they were taking advantage of the warm day in their backyards.

Winter is coming.

Thanksgiving with Mars

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Today I sat at a table with Americans, Russians, Canadians, First Nation Canadians and had supper. The conversation covered Russian history, languages,politics, hunting, children, culture. My heart was thankful, I enjoy being in a setting where different cultures sit around a meal and connect. As I watched my friends children play with Mars around us and under the table, I couldn’t help but give thanks to God for giving me a heart for children. Its the main reason I moved to Canada. There are people out there who will spend a lifetime trying to figure out what their purpose in life is. For me, loving kids whatever race or creed has been my heart’s desire from the age of 13. What an adventure it has been with God as he has led me from country to country. Each place with its own set of trials and joys but the connecting thread the same, children.

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Jesus shared a parable of a man who gave three servants money to do something with whilst he was gone. Two did something with the little they had but one just let the money sit, thinking that there was nothing he could do with so little. Needless to say, this servant’s attitude was a great disappointment to the master when he returned. I want to be like the others who did something with the little they had. I don’t want to tire of getting better at working with children. I want to always strive for excellence. I want to say when I see Jesus,” here, you planted a desire to go and love and I did the best I could.”

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When I think of where I have come from and the opportunities God has given me to travel to different parts of the world because of His name, I am filled with amazement and thankfulness.What are the God-given desires, plans, ideas that have been planted in your heart? Don’t give up on them, the road may be lonely, you may not have enough people encouraging you but it’s better to live trying than never attempting at all.

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.

 

 

Hamba Kahle Madiba

                                                 “Go well Madiba.”

Last month I decided to spend a whole day immersed in the history of South Africa.  Friend, it was a very difficult read one that I promised myself I would not repeat for many years to come. By the end of the day I was left amazed at how the country did not fall into a horrible civil war, all the signs had pointed in that direction. A few brave men, Nelson Mandela being their leader steered South Africa from a terrible future.  What an incredible testimony he gave us on the power of forgiveness.

Picture taken from Las Vegas Guardian Express. From Rebecca Savastios article " Nelson Mandela’s Top Five Contributions to Humanity ."

Picture taken from Las Vegas Guardian Express. From Rebecca Savastios article ” Nelson Mandela’s Top Five Contributions to Humanity .”

Friend if you only knew  Nelson Mandela today, (affectionately called  “Madiba” by many), you must be living under a rock … a very large rock for that matter. As most media outlets are doing such a fine job describing who this great man was, I won’t even try,  best leave it to the good writers of which I am sure you have found. In my opinion Nelson Mandela was the greatest African leader who has ever lived, I don’t know if we will ever have another like him. I never met him and his passing was expected but it sure has left my heart sore today!

Tata Madiba ufile (Grandfather Madiba has died)

P.S The other language is a South African language, Zulu.