A week of farewells

The past week we have been saying our goodbyes.

One week ago today, my family ( mom’s side) had a reunion in Woodstock, where we said goodbye to my aunts, one uncle and cousins, spouses and their children. It was suppose to rain all day, and though it was overcast, the rain held off. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone that we haven’t seen in a while.  My aunt Caroline was there and I hardly recognized her. She has lost 160 pounds. One of my cousins was there with a new fiancé.  It was so good to meet his perfect match, his “Proverbs 31” woman.
( my cousin and I)

On Sunday we had our farewell to Bethel. I think I have said before how much we are going to miss our church family.  Bethel was home for the past five and a half years. It was been a wonderful part of our journey, the connections and friendships made will be cherished forever.  It is sad to say goodbye to that part of our lives, but at the same time there is excitement at the road ahead.
I will say one thing about this journey we are on. Before this began I would never in a million years get up and talk in front of people.  No way. Definitely not my cup of tea. I was too shy, too tongue tied, too nervous. But God is helping me overcome that. I am still nervous, still maybe don’t say all that I want, all that is on my heart, but he is giving me the grace and the strength and it each time it is a little easier. So, nothing is impossible.

Some of the special people to me personally..
 
 

On Monday our daughter Elisa had her grade 6 graduation. She looked so beautiful in her pretty gown. So grown up. So ready to face what lies ahead of her. There were a few tears for her as she said goodbye to her friends.
Most gut wrenching was the following day when she and her closest friend went out for dinner following her friends grad. They said goodbye on our front step, both of them clinging to each other for dear life and sobbing. It tore my heart in two to watch them in so much pain. So much heart ache.
I know though that even while we may be moving far, far away, the two of them have a friendship that will endure for their life time. That’s how special of a connection they have. Friends for life.

Wednesday we said goodbye to our remaining pet; Taffy.
Her new owner came and picked her up, and Taffy will have a good home the rest of her life. But how I cried when she pulled away. We had her since Jake was 6 years old. She was the cat the Jake prayed for as a young kid, knowing that Daddy did not ever want a cat. Yet Daddy was the one who brought Taffy home as a little kitten. It was hard to let her go, knowing we would never see her again.

 
 
 

Thursday was our kids final day of school.
It was also my last day of daycare in my home. I am going to miss these kids so much. They have brought much happiness and laughter to my life. Next time I see them I won’t recognize them I am sure. The past 5 years have been rewarding and I really enjoyed my job most of the time.

 
 
 
 

Friday was the day.  The day we loaded what remained of our belongings and loaded them in the back of a small uhaul trailer. It was surreal walking through the empty house, my heart flooded with memories of days gone by. It almost didn’t seem possible that this time we would not be returning. This was not some vacation we were packing for…this was the real deal.

 

We are now living in a comfortable three bedroom apartment in a church. As I write this I am sitting in the café in the lobby of the church because our Wifi in the apartment has not yet been connected. This church has an amazing library that I can’t wait to check out in the morning and maybe borrow two or three books.

This afternoon we have Dale’s family farewell. It is being held here in the church gym; where once again we say goodbye to his close knit family.

It is going to be a busy three weeks, as we have much to do before we fly out on July 18th.
I know though that God will help all our plans fall into place so that we are ready to go when that day arrives. He will be with us each step of the way, just like he has so far.

It’s for real now!

Filled with memories of yesterday, the empty rooms of our house echo.

In less than one weeks time, we will load up van with our seven hockey bags and leave the home we have lived in for the past 5 amazing years. Our kids have basically grown up here. They have skateboarded on the street, rode their bikes and ran around with their neighbourhood friends, caught the bus to school.  All of that is coming to an end. There will be no more visiting with our wonderful neighbours, no more gardening for Dale, no more walks around the neighbourhood for me.

If the walls could talk, oh the stories they would tell. The joys, the struggles, changes worries, cares. The battles fought and won and many answered prayers within these walls.

On Friday we will pull away from our house  and drive down Wooton Ct. one final time and begin the drive into our future.

We received the official word late last week that we had reached the percentage needed in our budget where we could purchase our tickets.
There was much rejoicing in the house that day let me tell you!

And yet…

While we know this is the path that God has on from the moment he first breathed it into our hearts- it is still difficult.
Our hearts ache at the thought of goodbye.
Tomorrow morning is our final service at Bethel Church and tonight as I write this, my heart is heavy. Tears have fallen.
Part of me wants to hang on and not let go….not leave this precious church family that we have come to know and love. And how we love Bethel.

Tomorrow marks the end of a story. It’s for real now. A new story begins!

 

 
 

 

A life lesson along the way

The other day I had an unexpected chat with one of Ben’s friends rumoured to be a “bad” influence. He showed up at the house skateboard in hand wondering if Ben could come out.  At the time we were looking for a home for Taffy. I jokingly asked him if he wanted a cat…maybe talk to his mom about it. That is when he told me his mom died 8 years ago of cancer when he was 6 years old and his older brother walked out on the family. The older brother that he once looked up to, never calls and never comes for a visit. Wow! I felt so bad…Did I ever put my foot in my mouth that time. He sounded so sad when he said it. “it’s just me and my dad” he told me, his voice flat.

 I can’t imagine so much brokenness at such a young age. It was all I could do not to give that kid a hug.  I probably would have freaked him out though!  Hopefully between now and the time we leave we can reach out to this boy…show him the love of Christ , maybe even have him in for a BBQ. I have to admit I felt so convicted because before I even talked to him I had judged him . I had heard things.  I told Ben not to hang around him… to stay away…before I even actually met him and got to know him as a person. Perhaps he does have some “issues” but who having gone through all that wouldn’t? His entire world was turned upside down at 6 years old!  In that moment I didn’t see him as the boy I had him labelled as…I saw a young boy with sad eyes and a heart full of pain.
That day God put his finger on some things in my life  that were not pretty; things that were not pleasing to him. In that moment I saw things in myself that I didn’t like. I felt ashamed of myself and I vowed to try and change with God`s help.
Who of us doesn’t struggle with something? Maybe there are people that we don’t like or we think we can`t get along with, people we avoid or have a grievance against.  Let’s try and make things right. Life is too short to waste holding grudges.  Let’s forgive because in forgiving it is us that become free!
We all have a story; each and every one. The cashier in the grocery store, the single mom trying to make ends meet, the girl pouring your coffee at Tim Hortons, the man who walks down the street talking to himself…Regardless of our story…God’s love is huge! He made us in his image. He loves all of us with a love we cannot even fathom. If we would but turn to him and allow him to change us from the inside out..

 

Feeding program….it’s begun!

This morning I was sitting in church and it hit me….just four more Sundays including today and we  are finished this chapter in our lives. It’s hard to believe we are saying goodbye so soon, when in some ways it seems like we just arrived. We love our amazing church family! God has so richly blessed us here in Stratford in so many ways.
I’ve mentioned before about all the mixed emotions; because as extremely difficult as it is going to be to say goodbye…we are anxious to get started in Honduras.

The in school feeding program (ISFP) has already begun in Tegucigalpa. We have seen the photos that Randy and Judy have posted and how our hearts long to be there…and we will be soon!

To see the radiant smiles on these children’s faces and knowing the hope this program is bringing makes it worth it all. They look so happy! Their hungry bellies are being filled.  They are receiving a portion controlled protein rich drink in the morning and a high protein lunch in the afternoon. I am sure because of Erdo ( Emergency Relief and Development Overseas) coming into these schools and offering this program, that school attendance will increase. If you were hungry and you knew at school you would be fed, wouldn’t you want to go to school?  Would school not be something you looked forward to each morning when you awoke? Also as a parent would you not want to ensure your child was there?  If they are nourished they will be able to focus and concentrate better on their studies than they would if they are coming to school hungry. Grades should increase. What a positive change the in school feeding program is bringing to these children! Our family looks forward to being a part of it. Though we don’t have an exact date yet for when we can depart…we should have one nailed down soon. As you know, our goal is the end of July.

Matthew 25:37-40

The Message (MSG)
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’