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.

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.

 

 

Adoption.

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to adopt and now working in a home that is involved in adoption I am getting to see what it takes to get a child from point A(orphanage) to point B(new family). I have always known this, but now I know for sure, adoption is not easy, it is hard and in some cases extremely frustrating! The costs, the paper work,  the constant fear of “how about if we dont bond with the child” and if its a child with past trauma its the fear of “will he/she ever be OK emotionally”, if its an interracial adoption its the worry that “maybe the child will be made fun of at school”…the list of worries is endless.

Whilst others would change their minds after seeing first hand what it takes (and I hold nothing against them) I take it as, now I am more informed on how things work and when my time comes, I will be well prepared.

I feel this is the part of the post where I should go into an indepth theological description of how adoption is such a big part of our faith as christians BUT try as I might I cant seem to put the words together( I give up on being good at apologetics!)

I guess I will have to leave that for others who are better at that sort of thing…the next best thing I can do is share a few bible verse that show just how much God takes the subject of taking care of the less fortunate seriously:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James1v27)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.(Psalm 82v3)

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.( Exodus 22:22-24)

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.(Isaiah 1v17)

I believe, in one way or another we christians should always be in the forefront leading society in looking out for the needs of those who are less fortunate, after all that pretty much sums up what Jesus did when he was on earth!

Well, goodnight friend 🙂 until next time!

Take it from John

If you are a relational human being I am sure you have experienced the following scenario from one degree to another maybe in a romantic relationship or a platonic friendship:

It all started so well, a great friendship that I was quite confident would last a lifetime. But because of a series of unfortunate events  the friendship quickly disintegrates to one of: frustration, exasperation, heated arguments and finally the decision is made by one or both to just walk away from it all. It doesn’t matter who is in the wrong or right, at the end of the day there is no winner when a friendship fails! Yes, you guessed right my friend, I am speaking from experience.

14 If we love our brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. (1 John 3)

Tough words don’t you think? Maybe you think you are off the hook because you have never “hated” anyone, let me ask you; when was the last the time you blatantly ignored a friend because they had hurt you?  Is there a particular person in your life whom,  when the person’s name or face comes to mind your heart is filled with bitterness, anger, rage?  Have you ever told someone: “of course I love everyone BUT so and so is just too difficult to deal with I rather not bother.” Are you one of those who holds grudges for years? There are many ways to hate someone my friend.

Granted some relationships are just not meant to last forever, you could be doing everything to save it but as time goes by you realize you are fighting a loosing battle. Question is, are you willing to quietly walk away? Are you willing to forgive, let go and no matter how tempting, never bring up the reasons why you were treated badly? Can you “turn the other cheek” when the other person is spreading malicious gossip about you? Do you genuinely wish them well? I must confess this does not come easy to me, but as a Christian it is what is asked of me. I hope in time practicing all that 1 John is about will become as easy as breathing meanwhile I keep striving to get there. It’s quite simple really;20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a brother or sister,that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their brothers and sisters. (1 John 4)