Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Tuesday

Last night Matthew convinced a 7 year old girl that he was excited for December 25th because he loves Tuesdays...

We trust that this Tuesday has been one worth remembering.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

If you Cut me, do I not say "Ouch - Why did you do That?"

As we travelled, spoke and met new people over these past few weeks, we noticed that people engage us differently when we are introduced as a visiting missionary couple. As young adults, while out visiting, we are accustomed to sleeping bags and floor mats, yet we were received with such warmth and hospitality that we felt somewhat undeserving. It is amazing what the title of "missionary" will do for one's interpersonal relationships. Regardless of title, we are still ordinary people. As such, here's a little tale to prove how common we are:

This past Sunday we had returned to our home church in Fort Langley. We were so excited to be back. Conveniently enough, Matthew was on the schedule to greet people as they came in. After Matthew had been at church greeting for fifteen minutes, Amber arrived. From where he stood he watched her approach from across the parking lot - a true vision of beauty.

As Amber got closer, someone held the door open and Matthew, overcome by Amber's radiance, called out "good looking woman comin' in"! What Matthew had not seen was another young couple walking to the front door from the other side of the parking lot. As Matthew's words rang out, a woman (yes, completely unknown to him), stepped through the door wearing a shocked expression. Her husband, entering just after her, seemed even less impressed. Matthew, now glowing red, stammered to explain that he had not seen them and had been addressing his wife.

The couple, demonstrating grace, laughed at the situation, but still quickly took their seats.

Thus, we end today's lesson with two conclusions. One: missionaries are still very human. Two: always survey the landscape when exuberantly complimenting one's wife.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Seeing Slovakia

Much overdue we admit, but here is a glimpse of our time in Slovakia. We travelled to Slovakia by car from Austria. The feeling we had as we crossed the nearly non-existent border was a combination of pure excitement and a little bit of wonder as the countryside gave way to the cityscape of Bratislava in a place we will soon call home. We both avoided blinking as we arrived in Nitra as to not miss one aspect of the city where we will live. In some sense it already felt like we were coming home.

Our time in Slovakia was short and so it was busy! On a very practical level our time was well invested. We would go into stores and little markets to gain an understanding of the cost of living. We now know that Canadians will find food inexpensive (though the cost has increased 6% this past year in preparation for the Euro's 2009 debut), rent is comparable to what we paid in British Columbia and electronics is nearly double. Also, we were able to see what is available in stores. Moreover, we got lost while out and about and now have an understanding of the city and where we want to live. Imagine moving to Vancouver and not knowing the difference between Gastown and the North Shore, or arriving in Toronto and having to choose between the Danforth and the Jane-Finch Corridor with no insight at all.

There was a whole other dimension to our experience in Slovakia. We got to visit the church plant in Nitra, meet with national pastors and listen to the stories of people who have grown up in a country that we have researched, but only lightly understand. Yes we have read about communism, but we never fully shared in the life it created. We listened to the stories of Slovak Christians who had to wait for weddings or funerals to hold church in order not to draw government suspicions. We had no idea that students were made to denounce their faith in writing to gain access to a university education. Even as recent graduates and newlyweds we cannot grasp what that must have been like. Being in Slovakia helped us connect to Slovak people. Our thoughts, prayers and preparations for our time there are more focused than ever before.

With the developing country of Ukraine to the east and modernized Austria to the west we were unclear as to what we expected from Slovakia, sandwiched in the middle. From our perspective, the architecture seems to be a blend of it's neighbours. Nitra is a historic city with the old town serving as the city centre. Surrounding this centre are the communist era buildings with more modern homes flanking either end of the city. There is a great mix of old buildings designed with character, intrusive communist built housing blocks and factories, and modern looking shops and restaurants. The city, being quite compact, is bustling with people on foot, creatively parked cars and music slipping out of cafe's.

As we made our way back to Austria and onward to Canada, we departed with a sigh. Not a sad sigh, but one that wished we could have just stayed. This Christmas season will be enriching as we are with friends and family, and our move in January will come soon, but in so many ways we are ready to call Nitra home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Promises, Promises

We have been on a little tour-de-force in central British Columbia. It is by far the most scenic part of the entire province. While in Burns Lake we met a super fantastic group of youth. Stuart is one of those youth. Regailing Matthew with stories of all things gross and vomit based, Matthew felt that it was time he threw his hat into the arena and share with Stuart a story of his own. After hearing the story, Stuart, in a suprising turn of events, got Matthew to promise to blog the story. The following is a lesson in why one should not make idle promises as they will have to be kept, even to the detriment of one's pride (and by that we mean Matthew's). This story is dedicated to Stuart:

This past summer Amber and I went on a road trip down the west coast to San Francisco. While in California we stopped to visit my Grandpa Tom. GT is a strong man, a man who used to be in the American airforce. I am not a military type. When we got to his home he decided to take us flying around in his 4 seater, not to large, stays in the air using faith and duct tape kinda plane. I WAS SO EXCITED. That excitement faded after half an hour when I started to feel sick...when it was 96 degrees farenheit on the gorund, we were roasting in the sky and I was sweating in un-pretty ways! He noticed and tried to give me some air, but it was too little too late. The heat, the bouncing, the small dives as GT tried to show us all of the surrounding towns all led to one unavoidable end...with a twist.

Yes, I did throw up. But I caught every last drop in my mouth. From the outisde perspective it looked like a few dry heaves. So there I sat, shoulder to shoulder with GT, and I had a choice to make. Do I spew into a bag, releasing my breakfast but swallowing my pride - or do I swallow my breakfast and cling to my pride like I'm paid to do it.

I'd like you all to know that I am a very proud man.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stereotypes - Never What you Wanted to Be

Growing up it seemed as though missionaries were always just getting back from somewhere or just about to leave for somewhere else (if not both). We would smirk to ourselves and say "we will never be that kind of missionary". Yet, here we are, off a plane and into a car! Thus proving some stereotypes are based in cold, hard facts. Fact: missionaries are extreme schedulers and want to make the most of their time (especially while in their home country).

We arrived back in Canada last Friday and in the battle against jet lag we were losing badly. After one night at home, we were off to Sidney, which has to be one of the friendliest and most welcoming churches in the history of friendly and welcoming churches. We are on the road right now and are currently enjoying our exploration of Prince George. We are making the most of our life on the run.

Our time in Turkey and Slovakia was enriching, minus Matthew's unfortunate contraction of what has now lovingly been deemed "The Rixos Plague" (there is just something intangible, yet special, about laying on a tile bathroom floor for 20 hours trying to determine if the swelling in your tongue has gone down enough for you to fit it in your mouth). Turkey was refreshing as we reconnected with friends and met new people who are all walking out similar life journeys.

And Slovakia, oh Slovakia! There will have to be a later post to touch on some of our shiny moments there. We learned a lot while there including these fine lessons:

1) we got lost in Nitra several times, but now know our way around
2) Slovakia is cold in the winter and BC's lower mainland has made us heat-loving wimps when it comes to snow
3) Matthew needs to work on his language skills...especially while trying to locate a washroom
4) the Foreign Police do not know what to do with us
5) we will easily have all the necessities of life there

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gut Wrenching

Leaving Turkey yesterday Matthew had a slight rumble in his tummy - no, not intuition, but rather a sickly rumble. By the time we had cleared passport control Matthew knew his stomach was unwell. His very first act in Austria was to push a German-speaking man out of his way in a charge towards the bathroom. This was then followed by a night and afternoon of gut destroying vomitting and other like activities (details will be left out).

In two hours from now the Armitage's will arrive in Vienna and our road trip into Slovakia will begin. It will be "interesting" as that word is ambiguous and leaves room for both the good and the bad. We are so excited to be going to Slovakia, we just hope that Matthew does not leave a little bit of himself at each place we visit!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What's Not to Love?

Ah Turkey – a lovely country rich in history, touched with pleasant weather and yes, favorably located on the Mediterranean Sea. Currently we are attending the Eurasian Missions Conference in Turkey. And though there is definitely some time to relax and enjoy our surroundings (just imagine us screaming our way down water slides as German tourists watch in semi-amused distaste at our volume levels) there is business to be done. Turkey serves as the ideal spot as it sits in-between Europe and Asia (quite convenient for the Eurasian workers!).

We are excited to tackle the business portion of this trip because it is part of the process that brings us one step closer to calling Slovakia home. Also, it is great to be surrounded not only by old friends, but by like-minded people who are walking out their own journeys and possess a first-hand understanding of what we are experiencing.

Moreover, Amber celebrated her 25th birthday yesterday and despite the almost twenty-four hours of travel we did from the West Coast, we still indulged in merriment over a birthday dinner with friends! Not only was it the first birthday we’ve had as a married couple, but also pretty exciting to have a milestone birthday in such a unique setting…we guess the novelty of this would not apply if you are actually Turkish!

Following our time in Turkey we are headed up to Slovakia to do some connecting with people we will soon work with, explore the city which we will call home, test out our Slovak speaking abilities (yikes) and get a greater taste of Slovak culture. We cannot even tell you how much we look forward to this!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Okay, so it's a Stock Photo

Dressed up in countless shades of red, orange and yellow, Ontario really is the most beautiful in the fall. As a bonus, it has been remarkably warm and sunny and we have ventured outside in t-shirts to soak in the full autumn expereince.

Our time here has been good on a number of levels. It has been refreshing to visit with family and friends. We have been very busy, but we would not have it any other way. With all of our meetings, and all but one speaking engagement completed, we can honestly say our time spent here was very much worth it.

BC beckons and we will be home soon. Just in time to move out of our apartment, be a part of a young adults event and then take off for Europe. We are living out of a suitcase and loving it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thankful for Friends

With the Thanksgiving long weekend behind us we just want to say how thankful we are for friends. Couple that with a beautiful beach in Oregon and you have a lot to be grateful for. Together we braved the rain, explored tide pools, made our first attempts at cooking a turkey and laughed a lot! For the record we are expert turkey makers.

This past weekend was made of those great moments that will make you smile as you think about it even when alone. A ticking clock certainly has caused us to cherish these moments, but we have to say that our friends are invaluable to us. So to you our friends we tip our hats!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Here's to you Nana!

Tuesday was a mixed day for us. We bounced between laughter and crying as we buried Amber’s Nana, Gladys Smith, who passed away last Friday after bravely battling cancer. A touch of Shakespearean pathetic fallacy was in the air as the skies seemed unable to decide between rainy or sunny.

For Amber, and the family, Gladys’ final two weeks on earth were rich in reminiscing and jokes. Nana was too funny of a person for them not to be. Nana’s clearest moments came when she prayed and we believe her anticipation and understanding of heaven was growing daily.

For Matthew there was great beauty in Nana’s passing. Matthew was the last person to see Gladys alive and the image of her was remarkable. She was lying in bed. The floor of her bedroom was covered in countless black and white photographs that had captured moments from her younger years. Downstairs the majority of her family was sharing a meal together and the sounds of their talking and laughing was drifting upstairs. Her past and present were all around her.

Death comes without pretense and compels people to confront their most basic convictions. We believe that Gladys’ greatest achievement is her family and the spiritual heritage she made for them and us. We believe that there is something quietly powerful found within the bond of family. We believe, especially in the wake of death, that home is heaven.

Gladys Smith – a daughter to strong Russian parents – a proud prairie girl – a cheerleader for the Pentecostal church – a connoisseur of all things halibut, “red drink” and coffee mugs – a devoted mother – a loving grandmother – a powerhouse of a great grandmother.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Scented Afterthought

Following our last post, we were driving through the Fraser Valley out to Chilliwack and the ripe smells of freshly fertilized fields had filled the air. We guess that distinct smell will remind us of home even when we do not want it to!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Smells Like a Memory

The power of smell is undeniable. We quickly, and subconsciously, associate memories with a smell. For example, in our ongoing drama de car, we have now linked the smell of gasoline with trouble. The trouble being a hole in the gas tank resulting in our car transforming into a portable gas bath! Though all patched up, the smell of octane still wafts through Aunty Pearl and we laugh as we are the only people driving with our windows down in the rain!

Who cannot help but feel the warm glow of Christmas when they smell cinnamon (even if it does come from a Glade plug-in)? We build scented connections not only to events, but places and people as well; the energizing earthiness of the Redwoods, the salty bite of the Atlantic, the industrial fortitude of Petrolia (if you’ve been there, you know), the youth that seems to evaporate from a babies head or the distinct fragrance worn by a friend. It seems that each new smell is a memory waiting to happen.

With less than four months to go, we’ve been trying to soak in our surroundings – to stop and really appreciate what is around us. While walking at Crescent Beach we smell the drying seaweed exposed by the low tide. On Granville Island the flower market is smelled long before it is seen. In Langley wafts of warm bread grab our attention from the nearby bakery. Our memories of Canada are going to smell terrific!

We can only imagine while living in Slovakia what smells might bring our minds back to these places providing momentary times of reminiscing. In some way it is comforting to know that we will take part of this home with us, and in others it is so very exciting to know that there is a whole new country just waiting to be smelled…you know what we mean!

Monday, August 20, 2007

HUMOUR: Never What You Expect it to Be

Recently, while out with some friends celebrating a birthday, I came to the realization that I really like laughing. For those who have spent any amount of time with me, the realization that I laugh at myself (or the things I do or do not do) is soon to follow. I believe the saying goes, “he who learns to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused”. I’m set for life.

So I decided to write about how life is laced with humour. And so the comedy begins…

Along with our recent nuptials we decided to try and balance having two cars as our schedules have formally staged a revolt against coordinating. This decision was followed by the catalytic converter in one car falling apart (literally) leaving our little “Snow ball” in bad shape. With that fixed (with some unexpected help from friends) we moved forward, only to have our better car totalled while we were away on our honeymoon.

After some insurance dealings, we introduced the world to “Aunty Pearl” – and we must say rosy, warm feelings percolated in our hearts as we basked in the glow of transportation stability; until this past Saturday when a car braked suddenly and I had to swerve to avoid a painful introduction to the driver in front of me. Upon hitting the curb, the smell of burning rubber filled the air and I noticed that I was leaning to the right. The car that had so quickly stopped was gone, and I was left on the side of the road with two flat tires on the passenger side.

Fortunately we had gotten CAA memberships four days earlier. I could have hugged the driver, were it not for his burly demeanour, and the fact that I recognized him from the last time I locked my keys in my car and required help… Alas, Aunty Pearl was whisked off to Langley where she is currently under the knife.

This is the point where I wish the story ended. At 6:48am PST this morning, I was driving down the highway and having a little conversation with God expressing my frustration with cars and finances, especially in light of our “just married” status. For some reason I felt as though listening to the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness” would be soothing. I had come to my exit and slowed to merge into traffic at the end of the off ramp and was feeling revitalized as the words “all I have needed thy hand hath provided” danced out of my speakers – BANG. Enter Mr.J.M. of Vancouver who had made his presence known by acquainting his mini-van with Snowball’s back bumper. I was not even mad. I simply pulled over, looked up and said to God “we are so going to talk about this later, but right now I have to go exchange insurance information”.

Funny, isn’t it?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Huzzah for Aunty Pearl

In the search for our next mode of transportation we made a list of "must have's". After much searching, talking to friends and asking God for help, it is our joy to intorduce "Aunty Pearl". She meets all of our requirements and even has a pink, leopard print faceplate on the CD player. What more could we want?

Absolutely nothing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Good House Guest

What does it take to make a difference? Some might say that it is both audacious and arrogant to believe that one can make any lasting difference in a foreign country, filled with dissimilar practices, a distinct world-view and a history that is only understood through research. Though I am convinced that there is an element of daring involved, which perhaps borders on arrogance, I believe there is a drive deeper than this.

As a Canadian I have been given much. Even as a recent graduate and newly wed I have more than most people around the world. I find that I cannot shake the saying “to whom much is given, much is required”. I think this saying was Spiderman-ized into “with great power comes great responsibility”. It is this sense of responsibility that drives so many.

This realization seems to be taking centre-stage in the theatre of world affairs. While we have watched Angelina and Bono take affirmative action, there must be something said for the everyday actions of everyday people. We are all to leave this world a better place than how we found it; truly the cardinal rule of a good house guest. I believe we are all capable of making this contribution.

Some will do so here in Canada, while we commit to doing so in Slovakia. Our contributions may vary, and our surroundings may differ, but we can all choose to be involved. So, much like making the bed, rinsing your dishes and not making long-distance phone calls while at a friend’s house, what is your contribution? I believe that the true challenge is daring to embrace this responsibility and seeing it through to the point where it has an impact.

Change demands action...so I guess it's time to make the bed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Return of the Roamers

After about a month’s hiatus, we have returned to set-up our home. Decidedly, we’re not allowing the fact that we will be deconstructing our homestead in six months time to detract from our enjoyment of this process. Excited does not seem to fully capture our feeling towards the next few months. There are just so many things to tackle and each of them is intriguing, involving and most are simply a lot of work.

Our intention is to depart for Nitra in January of 2008, leaving us the remainder of this year to further our language and culture study, grow the number of people who know of us, pray for us, generally like us and think good thoughts about us, and establish our finances. Oh, and let’s not forget that we will be exploring the meaning of the words “wedded bliss” (to date we have learned that neither of us are accomplished blanket share-ers). And so our days are filled with language learning, house arranging, car finding, and schedule making (we are really hoping to travel to northern BC to meet with churches).

As with all journeys of an epic proportion, this beginning certainly does feel quite grandiose. We are making sure to take in each moment – from the larger-than-life “we just got married” times to the “let’s meet a friend for coffee” instances. Each is invaluable to us....so, uh, whose up for some coffee?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We are SO Married

June 9th was everything we could have wanted and more. Though the skies decided to provide their own version of light refreshments, the day was wonderful. It truly is powerful, overwhelming and energizing to see family and friends all displaying their love and support by their presence. We were honoured to have people who came from across the Fraser River, the country, the border and even the Atlantic, to be with us.

And as if a wedding, food and a ridiculous amount of meriment was not enough - then there comes a Honeymoon. We admit we have quite the travel bug and so exploring a new place, language and people group was exciting. Even more exciting than gesturing through conversations, white water rafting or a close encounter with a coral snake while hiking, was driving our wee rental car on the mountain roads of Costa Rica...Matthew did well except for one minor visitation with the side of a large pick-up truck. All ended well and we were pleased with Amber's decision to opt for the extra insurance (it's like she knows!).

We have returned to Matthew's home province to spend some time, indulging in further celebratory events, with family and friends...and to do some further preparation for our upcoming transition to Slovakia.

Today we had another big lesson on our road to heading overseas. We lent our car to a much-beloved and highly responsible friend in B.C. to use while we were away. Our trust in our friend still remains strong, however, we are now quite skeptical of all other drivers. I am not sure what the odds of being T-boned by an RV from Alberta which was rented by an Italian tourist are, but somehow it happened. Our friend, despite a swift blow to the face by the airbag, is alright (and we are glad - anytime you walk away from an accident, it was okay). Sadly, our car has been laid to rest at some unknown car impound awaiting our return for its proper burial.


The lesson: we seriously never know what is coming next, but we take it all in stride and honestly believe that God will work something out for our best interest. Now the really hard part is actually believing this and not agonizing.

The question: anyone know of a decent car for sale?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Marriage - YES PLEASE

Lo and behold - here comes our first delve into the world of blogging. Starting new pursuits seems to be a life theme lately, so a new blog fits well.

June 9th is coming quickly and we are all set to be man and wife. In some ways we feel like bad spouses-to-be because we are not panicking, nervous, or even overly excited. To be honest it all feels very natural. After three years of dating, being together just feels so normal. We are a little worried that other people are more excited for our wedding than we are!

It is our race to the starting line. Our marriage marks a whole new place in life. Presently, we know eachother as well as we can outside of marriage. Soon we will have a chance to re-explore our relationship on a whole new level. Could anything be more alluring? It also marks the final push towards life in a new cultural context. We are confident that we are entering our greatest adventure together.

We are better together.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Convention: More than a Survival Story

We survived a very full weekend with over 3,000 youth and leaders in attendance. Though the weather was not always in our favour, I am still thrilled with all that happened. From our organizing end things went well - there were no show-stopping glitches, we learned lots and no one died! I was certainly very physically tired, but on an emotional / spiritual level I felt full of energy. My greatest moment came on Saturday when I stole away to the back bleachers of the arena and looked out at thousands of people having their own meetings with God. It caused me to be still and just watch - the moment felt like it was too full of power to allow itself to be missed. The moment was flawed, noisy, slightly chaotic with that many people, and still beautiful.

Amber and I agree that we have learned so much thrugh this experience. On a practical level we have learned what it is like to dream, plan, organize and realize an event of this magnitude. It was also a good lesson in seeing the value in seemingly empty tasks. All of the meetings, letters, e-mails, phone calls and maps added up to something more than just paperwork. This is a great lesson to remind myself of in the future as I am faced with tasks that have more long-term value and are perhaps a bit boring in the moment.

Every year at Historymaker several missions projects are highlighted. This year Amber and I were one of the four. It was encouraging to know that so many people were praying for us, thinking about us and even gave in an offering.

We want to thank everyone who volunteered, encouraged as we ran around, showed their support financially or took the time to pray for us. It was empowering.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


BC's youth convention is called Historymaker. This year the theme is "revolution" with a focus on the word "love" at the core. The desire is for young people to recognize that every long-lasting, innovative and life-giving movement began in love. Moreover, the hope is that people come to understand that a revolution of love is not something beyond them, but in fact can be a very everyday action.

So I come bearing prayer requests:
-for the vision of Historymaker to be realized (and for some fun times too)
-for heightened learning abilities in regards to language study (we are already so fortunate to have found great teachers)
-I am having passport troubles! Please pray that I receive my passport prior to May 30th...very helpful for the upcoming honeymoon and life abroad.

I am incredibly excited for this weekend and will share all of it's happenings!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Little Island Time

BC’s provincial capital is a great place with aged European style buildings, small shops and street side cafes. We have just concluded TimeOut (an event designed to connect children, youth and young adult pastors from across the province). It was great to see over 100 people attend and have a chance to recharge amongst their peers. For Amber and I it means that there is only one more major district event left to help run – Historymaker (BC’s youth convention). Time is moving at an unreal rate. In just over a month, we will almost be done the in-office portion of our apprenticeship AND we will be married!

Last Saturday I proved that my acrobatic skills are far greater than even I realized. Along with 15 of my friends, I rented a scooter. Now contrary to what you may think, these scooters were quite manly and could do up to 70km/h. At one point I tried to pull a rather quick U-turn to get ahead of one of my friends. Unfortunately, I misjudged the turning radius of my man scooter and connected with the curb. Suddenly I found myself having an experience akin to Superman as I sailed head first over my handle bars. I flipped feet over head and one witness swears my head was at least 5 feet above the ground. At the last minute I tucked my head in and simply summer salted across someone’s front yard only to pop up onto my feet at the end of my roll. It seemed as if I should have arose to the applause of a circus crowd (accompanied by a “ta-da”) as a leaping performer would do.

There was not a mark on me, alas the same could not be said for my rented scooter of power. When we got back to the rental company, they did not notice the damage and technically their policy places the responsibility on the staff to note all damage. I had also paid for the $6 insurance. So I left without saying a word. As we were walking away, one of my friends told me I would feel guilty. I shrugged him off…until about 2:00pm the next day when I found myself standing at the counter explaining all that I had done. Because of my belated honesty I was not required to pay, but I was asked to tell people all about their business – so if you are ever in Victoria , than rent from BC Cycle; they have a wonderful assortment of scooters!

It was embarrassing. It was humbling. It was a good reminder that I need to be responsible in all areas of life. It was a learning moment that as a Christian I am not meant to simply satisfy the bare minimums of integrity, but to live at a standard beyond the norm.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

SPARKing a Little Something

This past weekend Amber and I got to be a part of an event designed to engage pre-teens. SPARK Kelowna was an amazing time where nearly 300 pre-teens came together and it was a great time. The energy level was off the chart, the sumo suits were plump, the luggage was overstuffed for a 2 day event and the air was nearly chewable (because that is what you get when you sleep that many people in one building).

We did not know it but The Darce (our friend / boss Darcy McAlister) had a little surprise up his sleeve. He called us up in front of the whole crowd and explained what we are in the midst of living out. He had every person, adult and pre-teen, in that place come forward and pray for us. With the mic in the hand of a pre-teen, and little hands climbing like spiders up my arms (to meet Darcy's instructions for people to put their hands on our shoulders - talk about asking the impossible of a 3 foot pre-teen facing a 6'2" guy), I became slightly overwhelmed in an emotional way. The honesty and simplicity of their prayers was striking.

As if this was not enough, Darcy gave us a basket to hold and invited people to give to missions through us. Pre-teens and leaders came forward dropping coins and small bills into the basket. To them, it was a fortune. If they did not have money to give, they were told to give us a hug. Ever been hugged by hundreds of people in just a few minutes? Despite one unfortunate back swing which caught a girl in the face, the moment was one of the most humbling I have ever expereinced. There was such a stillness in me, as if this grandiose outpouring of pure well-wishing was too much for my body and all it could do was pause and soak in it.

And so here I sit - still vibrating with energy - marvelling at what these pre-teens will do as they grow. I find myself staring at my world map not so starry eyed anymore, but purposefully. Not only am I going to Slovakia, I am being sent.

Thank you so much to everyone who gave, spoke a kind word, prayed or hugged. You've done more than you realize.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Evaluating Values

Running around in this brain of mine have been a lot of thoughts on values. What do I really value? And how do those values translate into my everyday life?

I wonder about values for two reasons. Firstly, there is a little clock in me that is ticking ever louder. Life is about to change in some pretty big ways. In less than a year I will be married and living in Slovakia. For both Amber and I we have come to a realization that we need to be deliberate in identifying what we value. We want to not just bump into people, but invest in our friendships. We need to spend quality time with family, rather than just getting around to it. We have to pause and appreciate the mountains and the ocean, instead of just driving to our next appointment. A limited amount of time has really made us appreciate every aspect, even the small ones, of our lives here in Canada.

Secondly, there are thoughts of how my values shape who I am as a person. The things I value serve as the framework on which I build who I am. In talking to one of our missionary friends, it became clear that if I am not aware of who I am in a familiar cultural context, than I will never be able to translate myself into another culture. Language, mannerisms, expressions and clothing are all expressions of who I am; but they do not define me. I must truly know myself in order to maintain my identity in a new culture.

This is a work in progress.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

From Rain to Sun to Snow

In a true display of unpredictable West Coast weather, the past three days have brought everything from glorious (and much needed) sunshine, to rain, to hail and now there are huge, fluffy snowflakes falling to the ground. It is the perfect day to enjoy the great indoors - despite the fact that there is work to be done.

As always, there is lots to do. I've always heard about how much work getting married actually is, but now I understand. There are simply a lot of little things that form some sort of coalition making it all seem like a single big thing. Amber and I have taken the "divide and conquer" approach and are tackling tasks on an individual basis. This has worked out great - we realy feel as though we are right on top of things. At present my biggest stress is suits. After much searching I've yet to find a suit that I love...well, I found one once, but it did not really work out and now no other suit can even coompare - so sad. We are also doing our pre-marital counseling right now and it has certanly led to some great conversations.

District happenings are in full swing. February was certainly a busy month. I do beleive March will bring a pause just before the rush brought on by SPARK (pre-teen convention) and Historymaker (youth convention) in April and May. Then the beginning of June will see us enter the blissful world of marriage. After that life is looking whirlwind-esque until September. Last Friday we hosted a pre-rally for SPARK to spread the word. It was a great night. I really enjoy investing in an event and then seeing people have an exciting and meaningful time once there. A personal highlight for me was dropping prizes from the cat walk onto a crowd of gift crazy pre-teens below!

Another arena of life that I am attempting to grow is the quality time I spend with friends. Investing in others and relationships is never a waste. With less than a year left here in Canada I really want to share this time with those who have walked out this journey with me; and I am excited to connect with new people as I go. I've found that a ticking clock defintely calls for a priority check.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Apple of Alberta's Eye

For those of you wondering, the afore mentioned Apple of Alberta's Eye is none other than the West Edmonton Mall (to be called The Mall hence forth). Amber and I are currently attending a conference called Transitions - it is a whole lot of training for new missionaries. I must admit that my brain is feeling full as we have been learning lots, but it has all been very thought provoking. Plus, it is super great to have the opportunity to meet soon-to-be missionaries, like Amber and I. Talking with people who are expereincing the same things as us, though each in their own unique way, has given us a lot of new perspective to work through.

BUT, back to The Mall! Yesterday, in a moment of informational overload, one of our fellow missionaries in training convinced the man in charge to take a spontaneous road trip to The Mall. There was great excitement surrounding this moment. Breaks were shortened to make the most of our time, classes flew by as we waited in anticipation and pulses were racing contiually throughout the day! The atmosphere became so intense that people were reluctant to utter the name of The Mall, as if speaking it too loudly would cause us all to wake and fdefinitelyit had only been a dream. And then the moment of departure came...

We piled into the van and we were off traversing the straight roads of Alberta (where we had seen 2 moose - or mooses - only the day before). We drove towards Edmonton with a building sense of excitement and then...we got lost! And to be honest, by we, I mean the driver (whom we shall allow to remain annonymous). Now, I am not criticizing this person but I have to say he had been to The Mall before. And, as if that was not enough, it is slightly ridiculous to have announce to a car load of hyped-up missionaries that you cannot seem to find the largest mall in North America...

One awkward phone call later we found ourselves at The Mall. Nearly bursting from our skin, we charged into The Mall in search of roller coasters to delight us with both twisting and looping. Alas, to our great dismay we found that all of the attractions had closed at 7:00pm and the clock had already struck 7:15pm. In that moment, if you stopped to listen, you could hear the sound of my dreams breaking amidst the ticking of the clock (which had hit 7:17pm by this point in time). After consolling ourselves with Starbucks (I tip my hat to you Cinamon Dolce Latte), we shopped and dreamt of what it would be like to be riding the roller coaster at The Mall.

In lieu, of a roller coaster Iride was offered a dare devil ride on a shopping cart at a Wal Mart in Le Duc. I am still waiting for that ride - you know who you are....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No Laughing Matter, Well Maybe

Back in BC just in time for the weather to release its fury once more! My time in the tropics of Ontario was great. It was exciting to see friends and family. It was also wonderful to have Amber come and spend some time in my part of the country. We flew back together (that was a nice first) on January 7th.

Life, once again, has picked up momentum and I like the business and challenges that this year has in store. They excite me!

Something even more exciting is driving the streets here in the Lower Mainland of BC. There are just too many funny moments to share. There are literally cars and trucks, of all shapes and sizes, strewn everywhere. Drives that should normally have taken me only a short while have turned into roadtrips! The highlight of it all came when it took me an hour-and-a-half to make it down one street. I had never heard of a city bus spinning out before that day...and to my great surprise, 2 city buses had spun out and blocked traffic just ahead of me! What are the odds of that happening? No seriously, I want to know.

As much as the snow and wind has wreaked havoc on BC, it is incredibly beautiful out there...picture tall pine trees dressed heavily in white with the sun reflecting off the snow as it blows off of mountain tops (please note this view is best enjoyed from the inside of your home).