Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Fear


Fear is a very often an irrational thing.  It is a very powerful thing.  It can so easily control you.  Some things people are afraid of may seem silly to you, yet most everyone has something they are afraid of.  Fear is a very personal thing. We often don't think that our fear might seem silly to others.  I know people who are scared of spiders (won't mention any names), mice, flying, speaking in public, etc.  There are so very many things one can fear. 

Some of the things we fear are built on mistruths that we have fed in our minds for so long we believe them to be true.  That being said, we often can't seem to 'un-tell' ourselves.  We keep feeding our minds the lies, half-truths and mistruths so often that it becomes 'truth'.  They grow in our minds with each thing we feed them. We don't listen to people who are telling us a different story; often people who have the real facts.  Thus bound ... ...


Recently a friend of mine, who may or not may read this blog, told me a fear she has.  I could hardly believe it! Her fear was that she was afraid to come to Mexico!  She then explain how this fear developed.  Knowing this person, who has travelled to several different countries, I thought her fear irrational and astonishing. Then I pondered this thought some more.

Having lived in Nicaragua, I think Mexico is pretty tame. I would say, even given the present political climate, I feel safe.  I would say that by world standards it's a pretty safe place to live.  I would have said I felt 'less' safe while living in Nicaragua, mostly due to the civil uprising, the whole Contras vs.  Sandinistas, etc.  Although I would not say I lived in fear. 

But, I have had a similar fear (as my friend has about Mexico) but about Columbia.  My knowledge of Columbia was mostly hearsay.  I held a view that it was run by drug lords and guerrillas (people not animals) and that all the people wanted out.  My husband never took his students there, due to the instability in the country - the risk factor was deemed too high. So, I continued to maintain this view of Columbia. Later several Columbians started attending our church, having claimed refugee status.  Sort of had the idea confirmed in my mind that it was a scary place.  My fear was confirmed.  Listed on my 'don't visit' list.

Recently I have gotten to know several Columbians more closely and have begun to ask questions.  They speak of their country with love and pride.  They do not gloss over the bad things; what country does not have them? They speak of wonderful traditions, beautiful things to see, gorgeous beaches, exotic food, etc.  They are taking me to a Columbian restaurant here in GDL soon.  I am intrigued. I will add here that the time frame (between my original fears and my present day knowledge) has spanned many years, and things in Colombia have changed. 

Has Columbia changed? Of course, what country doesn't.  But my fear is gone by not feeding the negative stories I had in my head.  It is now on my list of  'places to visit'.

This took me to what I viewed as my friend's irrational fear.  Why did she have it?  My knowledge of Mexico is experiential, hers is probably like mine of Columbia;  I live here.  I love her (Mexico) people so I love her.  I know, experientially, of her great food, wonderful people, fantastic places to go and see.  I also have an understanding of the culture.  I say 'understanding' because I am not Mexican, regardless of how long I live here.

I have lived and witnessed things that could easily evoke fear in people.  We have a friend whose brother has been in prison, wrongfully accused, for 4 months.  The judge is corrupt and so they continue to fight this injustice with lawyers.  I can not believe this can happen.

We and our co-workers have all been in an accident, where we would say (some more clearly than others) we were innocent.  At the end, it was either 50/50 or we were to blame. 

We have seen the corruption within the country from the president all the way down to the common man.  If lying or cheating serves their purposes, most people would proceed in that manner of lying and cheating.

Rules are grey at best.  One can not predict the outcome of events due to this little problem.  Where our Western thinking (rules, right/wrong, etc.) makes something so, it is not necessarily so in Mexico.

My friend has also heard of Canadians being killed in Mexico.  Does that happen? Sure it does. I won't give my opinion on that hot topic.

Is her fear unfound? Is/was mine regarding Columbia? Hard to say.  But you know what they say:



I don't know if that is completely true but I know there are some great things there.  What are you afraid of?




Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Blessed Gift

My Family
You if you have been falling this blog, you read my husband's post last week.  Which also means that you know that he sent me to Canada to see our kids for my birthday.  You would also have read his emotional reasoning behind it.

I don't want to give a response to that, other than to say it was the most wonderful gift he has ever given me (cold weather notwithstanding)!

The first highlight was that this was planned as a surprise visit - not for me, but for my family.  No one knew I was coming.  It was so wonderful to just show up at their doors and see their response.

Just seeing the look on my Mom's face was worth a million dollars! And, of course, my daughter-in-law is always worth a reaction :) SO much fun. My sons were much more tranquil and calm.
It was not a relaxing trip in that I did not get much R & R, but it was enjoyable.  With our boys on snow removal duty, schedules were crazy, sleeping at weird hours, and working even weirder hours.  But they gave me all the time they could, depriving themselves of sleep.  We played cards late into the night, enjoyed meals together, watched hockey together, and I even got to see Chris play hockey.  Such fun.

I also got to see many friends, Ernie's family, and our church family.  Many coffee's, breakfasts, and visits.  Such a blessing.

Another aspect of the trip was showing my friends in GDL what winter in Canada was like.  Daily Facebook posts of activities, of the weather, and of life in the great white North.  They could not believe I could survive it.  I did confess that 3 years in GDL had turned me into a wimp, but I tried! No frost bite even after tubing behind a sled!

I t was a great trip! I loved every minute I got with our kiddos.  I loved being silly together, playing together, talking about some deep issues, and just being together.

Ernie continued on in GDL and felt what is was like for me all those years of Mission- X trips, where he was gone for 3 weeks, and I stayed home.  He said the time moved slowly.  That said, he was still glad he could bless me with this gift.  Just seeing my face, upon seeing our boys - priceless.

Now we are back in Mexico, together, at the beach.  Friends have a house in Sayulita where we are resting before we jump back into things.  We are both under the weather, Ernie with allergies and me with a cold (shock).  So, 3 short days of R & R at the beach should do the trick.

Life is good.  God is Great! I can not say thank you enough for the blessings he bestows upon me.  Health, strength, family, friends and His faithfulness day after day.  Looking forward to seeing my GDL friends, chatting about my trip, and reconnecting.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Your 'ministry' partner...


        My wife Diane turned 51 on Monday. Although this post might seem to have little to do with ministry, it actually is a pretty important part of it. First, let me clarify that Diane is not celebrating 62 yrs of age! Those just happened to be 2 of the candles we had. Not sure why she didn't put '26' instead of '62'; was it compassion for me (I'm 9 yrs her senior), or an attempt to avoid being presumptuous? 
       Anyway, my birthday gift to Diane was a surprise (not to her, but to everyone else) trip home, on the day of her birthday, to celebrate with our kids and parents. 
Diane with Jaycia (daughter-in-law) and Les (brother)
Diane with Mike (son), father and Lisa (sister-in-law) in background
Diane with Chris
Diane, enjoying her first day in the snow!
        Last year, on her 50th, we threw a big party, with guests from the fitness gym, cell groups, and our neighbours. It was a very special day that Diane enjoyed very much!
Diane, in orange, doing Danzika with gym friends

     Now, here's my point. my wife is a HUGE part of our ministry. The way I'm wired it always seems to be ministry first; relaxation and down time, or holidays, are secondary, and preferably worked into ministry some how. When I see how happy Diane has been on her last 2 birthdays, how much she appreciates the importance I've given to it, I realize, to my shame, that I've often failed to celebrate or make it important, the way that she would want. So, if you are like me (somewhat ministry driven), why not make an extra effort to acknowledge and show appreciation for your 'ministry partner' (birthdays are a good start, but don't stop there). Make their day! ...Like giving them a trip to see your kids on their birthday! I'm reminded again of how fleeting life can be, and in the midst of focusing on ministry, and others, don't forget that important 'ministry partner' at your side! Make her feel like she hung the moon and the stars...I think you'll be glad you did!
     A quick side note. Diane used to say to me, as I was buried in work, "don't forget your kids, they're the only thing you can take to heaven with you!" I'm guessing your spouse fits into that same camp.....


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Tell me the whole story

If you were to hear stories about me in early 90's you would hear stories about Nicaragua.  You would see me as a young women struggling to adapt in a foreign country, and not doing it very well.  You would have a certain impression of me.

However if you were to talk to friends from Chihuahua in the mid 90's, you would hear a completely different story.  You would hear about a young mom who loved Mexico, loved tacos, and was well adapted to life in Mexico.

If you were, however,  to hear stories about me in the 2000's you would see a very different picture...a hockey mom who seemed to live at the arena.  A mom who lived, ate and slept hockey. Who cheered her boys on with much enthusiasm.

If you were to talk to friends in my life right this minute you would hear a completely new story.  Some of the stories from my life are sad, some are crazy, some are filled with joy and bliss.  One story never paints a complete picture.  Not about a person, and most certainly not about a country, a people or a nation.

I recently watched a TedTalk called "The Danger of the Single Story"  (Video).  Watch it if you would like to get a full explanation.

The speaker, a young African lady, states that the way we create a single story about someone is to show them as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what people will become.  Single stories can create a poor worldview.  This is because single stories are often told with a certain power structure.  So, if a power broker wants to have you believe something they can.  This is done by how the story is told, who tells it, when it is told, how many times it is told.

This power "is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person."  Just look at how the media does this...  One does not need to go too far back.  During the elections in the USA how many single stories were told about Mexicans and other nationalities.  Did they ever paint the true story or the complete story? Is every Mexican a murdered? A rapist? Most certainly not.

The problem with the single story is that it creates stereotypes.  Not that those stereotypes are necessarily untrue, but rather that they are not the complete story.  Often times the incomplete story becomes the whole story to us.  It becomes the story we believe to be true.

I am not only one of the above stories, but rather a combination of all of them.  The collage of stories makes me who I am.  I would not want someone to think of me based on a single story, especially one that paints me in a negative light.  I then must be mindful to never do that to another person, nation, country, race, etc.

Right now our world is full of single stories about various races, countries, etc.  These single stories are creating animosity amongst people and nations.  Let us be mindful of the fact that there are two sides to very coin, and many stories to hear.

There are many single stories about Canada that would not paint us in a very good light.  This is true of many countries.  Let us listen to one another, let us tell stories which paint a fuller and more complete picture.