So much stuff

Yesterday we made an impromtu trip back into Stratford. When we first left for Honduras we had no idea how long we would be gone for. So we rented out our four bedroom house as a three bedroom and stored all the “stuff” we wanted in Ben’s room. When we were in Stratford a couple weekends ago, we emptied out the room so that the couple that is renting the house could put laminate flooring in that bedroom, like they did with the rest of upstairs.

Unloading that room took forever. Hours. We had so much stuff. The whole time I am thinking “why did we keep this?” Useless junk. Granted we did keep a lot of nice things….but still, it is sitting there unused in a locked storage room collecting dust.

We took all the items from that room and put them in a storage unit. The plan was to come one day while we back in Canada, and go through it. That day was yesterday. Dale had been putting it off because he felt sick to his stomach every time he thought about doing it. The task was overwhelming. We made three piles. Keep, Toss, and donate. We felt like we were on an episode of the show hoarders. It was a trip down memory lane. It was liberating to let stuff go. We gave away a lot of really nice stuff. A crammed car load full. So full I had a box on my lap on the drive over to the Goodwill store. However, we did keep some sentimental things. Photo albums, some tea cups that were my grandma’s, beautiful tea pot my mom gave me that has been in the family for years. It would be too fragile to make it in a suitcase to Honduras. Also there was a quilt that my grandma made me when I was a little girl. But in reality, will we ever use these ítems again? I don’t know. Maybe, Maybe not.  We still have a few pieces of furniture that we would love to sell but no clue how to go about putting it on Kijiji when we are here at Braeside and the furniture is in Stratford.

After we dropped all our possessions off at the Goodwill we drove back to the storage unit and loaded up the car with the remaining pile of stuff we were just throwing away. I was filled with sadness by this point, because in reality none all of what we were tossing was garbage. There were some well used appliances there, garden tools. (Things that probably would not sell at the Goodwill though.) But again for whatever reason it was stuff we had held onto. I wish we had sorted through it all before we left for Honduras, but I suppose we just ran out of time. Anyway, once we got to the dump we paid the $15 to get rid of it all. One by one our items that at one time meant something to us, landed in a pile of garbage. I almost came undone. Again.

See, the whole time we were throwing away perfectly good stuff I had a flash back to home. Honduras. Home; where it is normal to see entire families standing in garbage dumpsters, or standing around a garbage bin rummaging through it for something of worth. Usually it’s plastics that they try to find so they can sell it later. If only we could have shipped all of our belongings we no longer wanted or needed back to Honduras. People there would have loved to have had some of what we were just throwing away. People that I know. I thought of the older lady I see and talk to all the time who goes through the garbage bins in the colonia I walk in. I thought of her two young grandsons who work along with her because they do not have the money to send the boys to school. Every day they gather pop bottles, and collect them to take back home. I thought of the families we minister to who have nothing. It makes a difference when poverty has a face. Poverty has a name I know.

One thing I have noticed about being back in Canada is all the excess. There are so many choices available. I have already mentioned in another post about the yogurt and deli aisles…but how about the cereal? How does anyone possibly decide? Even though, I am Canadian and it was all at one time very normal. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy to have some of our favorite things that we had forgotten about…and I plan on trying all the treats I have missed in small doses. But my heart is longing for the simple life. We don’t need so much stuff to be happy. Because, really when we leave this world we cannot take any of it with us. Not even that tea pot I love so much, that still sits in a box collecting dust.

Matthew 6: 19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The first week back in Canada

thoughts from my perspective of being back in Canada. …

A whirlwind of events have happened since we arrived back on Canada soil almost two weeks ago. Some of the “adventurous” things we have done, are, drinking water out of a tap, washing our produce with only tap water, flushing toilet paper, long walks without looking over our shoulders. Then there are the walks in the evening. It’s light until 9:30 or so…not 6pm like back home. It is good to be back, even though the window of time we have here is so very short. It has been amazing to see our family and friends again after almost two years of being on the field in Honduras.

That being said; in a lot of ways for me ,I kind of felt like a fish out of water. At least in the beginning. Like I really don’t belong here, know how to respond to certain things or even know what I am doing half the time for that matter. Just how do I use a credit card with the “tap” feature anyway? I had to get the sales girl to help me because I had forgotten. Canada kind of feels like the foreign country now, and what was once familiar is not familiar anymore. For example, I almost lost it in the grocery store when I saw the deli aisle. And then again when I saw the mile long aisle of just yogurt, I felt a meltdown coming on. I did not know where to begin making a selection because the variety was so huge. Seriously. I wanted to cry over yogurt.

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Then there was the incident after getting my driver´s license renewed. The poor elderly lady in the booth beside me did not understand why she would not be picking up her license that day, like she had planned. Even though the lady told her all matter of fact like that she failed the test, she did not pass, she could drive alone and she had to have another licensed driver with her. The sweet old lady repeated more than once that the man told her to come, pick up her license and drive away. Each time the employee replied, “M’am, he would not have told you that. You failed the test. There is no way he would have said that”. The tone of voice she used with her was so demeaning…as if the lady was stupid. As I was checking off the boxes on my renewal sheet, I felt the tears welling up inside. I felt so bad for her. Then when the older lady said “But I have no way to get my groceries” I couldn’t take it anymore… I barely held it together in the building. Then when we got outside the tears flowed and I couldn´t stop crying. My poor husband did not know what to do. He kept asking what was wrong and all he could make out was “old lady” He thought I was upset because I was called an old lady.

Those are just two of the “incidents” that come to mind that were tough to deal with upon landing in Canada.

Since then we have been living in a cottage at Braeside camp, just outside of Paris Ontario. But we have spent time in Stratford, connecting with old friends, family and neighbours. I was able to meet for coffee with a close friend and be treated to a haircut and colour by another. Then the three of us went out to a diner for lunch. I have missed these girls so much!

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Elisa got to hang out with a friend at the mall and hang out with another friend at the movies and had a sleep over. Ben and Jake got to see some of their friends too. How they have all missed having friends to hang out with.

My mom hosted a grocery shower and potluck for us at for us at my parent’s home. It was so good to see everyone again; especially my mom who recently had a mastectomy. She looks amazing. She really does. She bounced back really fast. I guess her healthy lifestyle would have attributed to that. Can you believe that while she was sick with Breast cancer that she made me a quilt? It is gorgeous and something I will always treasure. All of the other quilts she has made us…one for our wedding and one for each grandchild came down to Honduras. There is something about a quilt that speaks of love and comfort.

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One couple from Bethel church hosted an ice cream social at their house and invited the church family over. It was so good to see all the familiar people that we love so much. Then we spent the night in their home and spoke at Bethel the next day. Bethel was home for almost 6 years. In a lot of ways, thanks to social media, it does not seem like two years have passed. I guess because you can see how everyone is doing, see updated photos and what not…it is almost as if we never left. Almost….

There was one day where Dale had a hearing aid appointment. I walked around my old “stomping” grounds…the mall, a couple grocery stores and the bulk barn. There was one time where a sweet lady from the church offered to drive me everywhere I wanted to go, but I had to refuse. First of all…I love to walk as everyone knows. But second of all I told her that I had not had the freedom to do that in two years…walking from one store to another. The freedom felt so good.

Family also came to visit us here at the camp. Even Dale’s brother came to visit and we have not seen him in about 5 years or more. Not since he moved out west to Alberta. What a lovely surprise to run into him at No Frills. I guess initially the plan was for him to just come to the cottage and surprise us there, and he had tried to hide from us in the store because the surprise would have been ruined…Dales’ mom is good at keeping secrets. The kids were excited to see him though!

It was one of these occasions when family came to visit us that we received some bad news. After dinner the one night Dale’s mom asked us both to sit down because she had some news for us. She told us that she had cancer. It’s in her kidneys and abdomen area and has spread to her bones. It was devastating to hear that. To look at her you would not know there was something wrong. She looks good and she says she feels fine. But thankfully we are in Canada for a little while yet. It would have been tougher to hear if we were in Honduras. I know how helpless I felt when my mom told me about her cancer and I couldn´t be there for her. Anyway, there was a new kind of treatment that they could try where they take some of the cancer out and inject it back in. Kind of like the flu shot. However when she went to be tested she was informed that she did not qualify for treatment. So now, it’s either chemo or radiation I guess..But really what she needs is a miracle…and for God to heal her. So will you please keep her in your prayers? We love her so much and none of us are ready to lose her….

That pretty much sums up week one of being back in Canada…

Jennifer….

Yesterday in the middle of our first class, it hit me that it would be the last time we would teach together before we head back to Canada and before she goes back to her home roots in Indiana.

I really don’t know the adequate words to say how much I have enjoyed working alongside Jennifer for the past few months. We have been incredibly blessed to have her as part of our team. It really is a miracle that we even have had her, even though the season was brief.

Let me back up just a little bit here. We first met Jennifer almost two years ago when we moved to Honduras. She was part of the church that we attended, but also the home group we attended each Thursday night. I remember being so impressed with her strong faith in the Lord and her wisdom above her years about a lot of things we discussed. She knew the Bible inside and out. At that time she was a teacher at the International School; the same school that our kids attend. Except that she taught the little ones.  At the end of that year she did not renew her contract, so that she could work with another ministry.

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When plans to work with the other ministry fell through she approached us and asked us if we would be able to use her in any way in our ministry with Schools of hope. Of course we said yes!  She is fun, joyful and energetic . The kids in the schools absolutely love her. Being almost fluent in Spanish, she communicates easily with them.  They know that she loves them. She is a gifted teacher. She plays the guitar and has taught the children some catchy songs in Spanish and she has the most beautiful voice. Probably most important is that Jennifer loves God… a lot. He shines through her life in a real way. You can see Him in her in all that she does. She is simply beautiful inside and out. Elisa says that she is sweet and like a big sister.

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We have had teams here, Jennifer fits right in. She takes the time to get to know each person, making sure they feel right at home. She does an amazing job with the worship time in our evening debriefs.

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While we are away in Canada, she is going to be house sitting and looking after our beloved dog. This is a huge blessing to us and it really does take a load off of what to do with Reuben when we are not here to take care of him.

Then when we come back home to Honduras, Jennifer will be leaving for her new teaching job at a Christian school in the states.  We know this is all a part of God’s plan for her, even though we really wanted God to tell her to stay. We will miss her!  He knows what is best.  And although goodbyes are a painful part of life when you are a missionary, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. The way that God uses her on this next step of her journey, even if it is not in Honduras.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to posper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

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Just a few things we look forward to…

In a few short sleeps we will be on a plane headed back to Canada! It does not seem possible that it has almost been 2 years since we were on Canadian soil.  I actually had my clothes packed days ago!

There are a just a few things that come to mind ,that top of our list of things we are looking forward to.

It goes without saying that hanging out with family and friends are at the top of the list, but here are a few other things we have missed…

1. Bubble baths…( We do have a bathtub here, howevever wáter does not come out of the tap; only the shower head.) How us girls have missed our baths!)

2. Bulk Barn. ( Need I say more?)

3. Tim Hortons (We do have good coffee here, but there is something that says “home” about Tim Horton’s)

4. Bottle Caps Candy..(always on Dale’s wish list for teams to bring down)

5.Freedom (freedom to walk where we want without gates, walls, razor wire and bars)

6. Biking trails..Ben has a bike here, but is looking forward to exploring new places

7. Magazines…in English

8. Affordable peanut butter and chocolate chips. ( I have to hide the PB here. Average length of time for just one of my kids to go through a 1kg jar…five days)

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There are also some things that we will be bringing  back home to Honduras with us.  It was not possible to bring all of our  treasures when we moved down here.

1. My study bible and one of Dale’s bibles as well…

2. A quilt my mom made..( nothing says comfort like a quilt made by mom)

3. A cookbook or two

4. Elisa’s memory box

5.My sewing machine ( maybe, as it might be too heavy)

6. A painting Jake’s Grammy gave him

7.Elisa’s baby blanket

I am sure as the time gets closer more things will be added to both lists….But for now this what we came up with. Hopefully all this “extra” stuff will not weigh too much…

The struggle with transition

Way back when I was a teenager, I used to have a journal where I would pen letters to God. In a spiral bound notebook, I would write out my prayers and pour out the feelings from a troubled young heart. No one else read it. But God knew. The words I could not voice out loud, I wrote them down. And God saw. God heard and helped me through all of those times of brokenness, but the good times too. God was my confidant, the only one I could fully trust with my heart. The only one I knew would not reject me, judge me or let me down. No matter what, I knew that God loved me…despite how I may or may not have been feeling on the inside, despite what I struggled with. I used to write out these prayers during my quiet times with God.

I am not sure when exactly I stopped writing out my prayers, but a part of me feels like I should be doing that again. Especially now as our family is in transition, getting ready to head back to Canada for a few weeks. There is something very freeing about it, a way of releasing things to Him. I guess for me anyway, one way I get things out is by writing it down. It’s part of the reason why I started this blog.

So, I hesitate to post this. Who knows, maybe I won’t. I don’t know how it will be perceived, if people will “get” where I am coming from. Or will people misunderstand what I thinking and feeling right now? I don’t know if I am being too transparent or too personal. But to be real…I am struggling with the whole transition thing. Can we say emotional roller coaster?

Yesterday was a very bad day. I was a wreck. For a while now it has been building, I think. I felt like my life was like the broken pieces of pottery that lay at my front door. Lately my heart has been in turmoil. I’ve been feeling so anxious about our trip back to Canada—just two weeks away. I’ve been anxious about many things.

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-We just found out Dale’s mom needed emergency surgery to put a pace maker in. They nearly lost her yesterday and they think that she had a heart attack.

– not having enough time with friends and family during the few short weeks we are in Canada. And last night, I found out plans that have been in place for a while, that I have long been looking forward to, may not actually happen. This morning, I found out they will.

-Fitting in, in a culture that was once familiar but is not so much anymore…For my kids too. We all want a sense of belonging, but will we truly “belong”?

-My heart is aching for my kids and the changes they will face. Friendships they had will not be the same but different. Oh, that God protects their hearts!

-Support raising that we need to do

-The struggles one of my kids is having and will that said child even want to return to Honduras after the summer?

-The chance that the kids could meet with their birth mom. This one terrifies me…

Seriously, I have almost been to the point where I don’t want go back. Isn’t that crazy? It seems far less stressful just to stay home, where it is safe and comfortable. It’s what I know. In truth, I am terrified to go back. It’s been two years. Two years. A lot can change in two years.

At the same time, I am so excited to go back. I am looking forward to catching up with friends, walking in my old neighbourhood and visiting old “haunts”. My husband Dale has gone online and has some pretty cool things lined up for us to do. I’ve said it before he is an amazing deal finder. He has some awesome things lined up for us to do at a fraction of the original cost.

Today I feel more at peace than I have in a while about the whole transition thing. It is amazing what a good night’s sleep can do….and talking with a friend and prayer. I called a friend back in Canada this morning and she prayed with me. Honestly I was a mess when I got on the phone with her, but having someone to talk with instead of keeping it all bottled up helped. And she prayed with me. ´Prayer works!  I feel calm now and I know in my heart of hearts that it is all going to be ok.

And whether we are here in Honduras or back in Canada…God is not going to leave us. He will be right there. Each step of the way.

Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Phillipians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.