Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Baptism

On Saturday afternoon, Dallas had the awesome privilege of baptizing a young man from his cell group.

His name is Juanca, and he has been a part of their group for quite some time.  It took him a while to make the decision to get baptized because he comes from a strong Catholic family.

In his testimony he shared that he was thankful for the strong faith his parents gave him and how he, as a young adult, decided he was an atheist.

Later he met the youth from Kleefeld EMC and Jesse Friesen.  These young people showed him a different faith and he was drawn to them.  Jesse and him spent a lot of time together and that friendship impacted him profoundly. Dallas has been discipling him and you can see a maturing faith in him.

This event was impacting on me.  To watch his parents struggle with the whole event, because they had baptized him as an infant.  They could not understand the need to be re-baptizd. They were struggling with whether he was turning from the Catholic church.  But I admire them for attending and supporting him.


I also was made to ponder, that what we ask our people to do here has much greater cost for them than for our own children.  I remember the celebration when our sons got baptized.  We were thrilled beyond belief.  These parents were crying, hurting, maybe even somewhat angry.  Juanca had to do a lot of explaining to his family, as to what and why he was doing this.  He was not sure if he would be accepted into their home later that day.

But, even with the possible consequences before him, he stood firm to his commitment and got baptized.  Please pray for the young man and the journey he has before him.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Certainties

While one chuckles at this sign, taxes are not necessarily funny. One might actually have an opposite feeling towards them.  Not only are they certain, they are yearly!

However, the first one brings with it opportunity. How so? Well, it gives you the opportunity to come alongside those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

I think most people have experienced the loss of a loved one, or, at the very least, have come alongside someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one.

Death is experienced differently in different cultures. My reference for death, dying and funerals has mostly been in Canada.  I have been part of the vigil at the hospital watching a family member as they slowly pass on.  I have been a part of the funeral planning, the grieving, the hurting, the tears and all that death entails.

I have also gone to funerals where I have gone to offer support to a friend who has lost a loved one.  Come along side to share the burden of their grief.

What I have never stopped to appreciate is the way we do all this.  The unhurriedness of the process.  The time allowed to make decisions.  The simple fact of how much time we have to get it all done.

Since we have been here in GDL we have also had the opportunity to come alongside friends who have lost a parent, a grandparent, a spouse, a sibling, etc.

The process is so very different.  For example, last night at 10 p.m Ernie got a text informing him of the death of a friend's (from the gym) mother.  The implication is that you can (should) head over to the funeral home for the 'velorio' (wake).  Friends and family come together to sit with the family and grieve all night (12-24 hours).  Then today at noon was the mass for the funeral.

Everything happens quickly.  From the time you are told of the death within 12-24 hours they are buried.  There is no time to prepare.

Our funerals are a complete service, dedicated to the loved one, with music, scripture, eulogies, etc  all primarily about the loved one.  Often an encouraging message is included, for the family and friends, and generally one of comfort.

Not so within the Catholic church.  It is a mass.  I have been to funeral masses where the person was barely mentioned. I have also been to funeral masses where they were more dedicated to the deceased but the 'norms' or standard components of a mass were still held to.

But, while it is very different and hard to handle the speed with which it all happens, what we have always been able to do is come alongside those who are hurting and be an encouragement. Trying to point them to Christ and the comfort available in Him.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Daily Living

Last week I told you about my friend who enjoys life to the fullest.  Here we are pictured at her surprise Birthday Party, that her family threw for her.

In all honesty, this is our table, plus Cristy and her husband.  We were the fun table...her crazy friends.  The four ladies sitting (on the right) are lifetime friends of hers.  Never met a more enthusiastic group of ladies.  They love life.  They were a joy.

It seems God keeps placing older ladies in my life to be examples to me.

So I try to give 100% to the things I do.  A place that I get to experience feeling challenged is at the gym.  I love the gym. I have never before in my life had a gym membership. My mother, on the other hand, has had one for years! Another older lady who is a great example to me, on several fronts.

I am glad however that I got to experience the whole gym thing exactly where I am.  The gym where we attend it apparently a bit of a novelty.  Even here in GDL it has a reputation of being a social club.  The friendships are plentiful and rich.  We socialize together, we have groups, we greet, even being all sweaty.  They are our family.  That said...some of us also take working out seriously.  Some classes I excel in and others I work hard in! (I mean to do it well)
Danzika
Above is a picture of my favourite class, where I have to work really hard.  This is a class where we do dance/aerobic/low impact workouts.  My problem here is coordination - two left feet.  But it is fun, we are great friends, and we laugh at ourselves and enjoy the best teacher.  I have improved so very much but he makes sure we feel challenged.

Then ...
This is my strong suit.  What I lack in coordination for dance, I make up for in strength.  Same teacher, many of the same ladies, but here they struggle more than I do.  Latin's dance well, Canadian's are strong?! After a morning of Nelson, we are done in! But we love it. We love suffering together.

On another note.... we enjoyed a little cultural experience this weekend.  GDL is hosting a Cultural Festival and so we headed out to see "Globos de Francia" (Balloons of France).  It was incredible to watch, along with 1000's of Tapatios (people from GDL). 


Life is to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest.  To be challenged. To grow. To Laugh. To Cry. To Celebrate. God gives us days where we feel we are walking 'though the valley of death' and others where we experience pure joy. We need both.

I thank my God for giving me people who are a good example of doing both.  Celebrating life and walking through pain. God is Good...always.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Enjoying Life

Do you ever think about getting older? Or aging?  I remember when I was a teen I thought 50 was 'OLD'! But now that I am over 50 I just happen to think 50 is young.

But one thing is for sure...we are all getting older.  Because if you are not getting older, you are dead! So my attitude is, celebrate every birthday!

I have heard it said that 'aging isn't for the faint of heart'.  I know it isn't always easy.  First you need glasses, then you need a hearing aid, the knees don't like the stairs, never mind watching the diet, due to cholesterol or blood sugar, etc.  Those things are hard.  But I also believe the other thing they say... "age is all about attitude".

I have met people who are such an example to me.  I have met people who are 'young' by the number of candles but are old in life.  I have met others who are 'old' by the candles, but young in life.  I have a friend here in GDL who is just such an inspiration.  She is one of my neighbours, and someone of whom I can honestly say, that when I get old I wanna be just like her!


Today she turned 70 years young.  I say that because she is the most youthful lady I know.  She enjoys life to the fullest.  She laughs, she smiles, and she acts crazy.  She is the life of the party.  Just prior to her birthday she went and got a small tattoo of a butterfly on her shoulder.  She proudly showed it off and told all of us that we could only get one when we turned 70! I love it! What an attitude.

But what makes one person seemingly ageless and another old? When I asked her about it, she said it all in your attitude.  Yeah, she remembers when she could do things that she can't now, but who wants to be cranky.  Look for the sunshine, she says.

I know that this picture seems extreme.  The bodybuilder vs. the little old lady.  BOTH are 80 years old! But I know the bodybuilder women is the real deal.  She inspires me because she took on life after 50, upon the death of a loved one.  She exudes joy when you watch an interview with her.

I am not denying that life is hard, that aging is tough.  I feel a little of my age every time I hang out with my sons, and their boundless energy.  But I want to be like my neighbour lady.  I want to be a joy, I want to be sunshine.  I always say I am a realist, so as not to say pessimist, but that doesn't excuse me.  I need to see the rainbows of promise in life, and celebrate the life God has given me.

I have the best reason ever, to do that!  Jesus lives in me.  He loves me unconditionally.  His grace knows no end.  He forgives me.  He came that I might have life, and life abundantly.

Then, as I start to count my blessings...well, they are many.

How about you? What do people see when they see you? Are they drawn to you, like everybody is to my friend.  I want to live an ageless life, filled with joy unending.  Attitude is a choice.  Thanks to my friend for being an example of 70 years of celebrating life.