Sunday, May 31, 2009

How To Do Anything

First: You get an idea.

Then: You tie a rake to a hula hoop and wrap copper wire around it.

After that: You put little silicone wire thingies in a plastic board, connect everything, and strap batteries to it. 

Finally, you plug that into your computer, and VOILÁ! You have a, um…pre-amp, err…loop antenna thingy that’s used for picking up …uhhh…clicks, buzzes, loud static and atmospheric sounds? Nothing I enjoy listening to, but then, I'm no engineer either.  This seems to be a project worth pursuing for Russell though, and I’m sure that if he doesn’t give up, he’ll succeed at picking up just the frequency he's looking for.

I was thinking about the “recipe” for success (or just plain getting anything done!) the other day and decided I liked this rather backwards approach:

Guarantee for Failure:
1. Never try anything. Ever. Especially the “big” stuff.
2. If you do ever attempt anything:
  a. Quit as soon as possible (especially when things get tough—this usually happens real quick).
  b. Don’t ask anyone for help.
3. Just, don’t try in the first place. OK?

Anyway, let’s move on to some of the things that got done this week.

The Prairie College nursing team arrived in Mozambique this week for their month-long practicum. We’ve been talking about and preparing and organizing for this for quite awhile now, and it’s great to know the team is safe and sound on the ground, ready to get stuck into their cross-cultural health-related experience.

The first few days are spent getting settled and acquainted with the new surroundings (and sounds that go “screech!” in the night).

And visiting a local church on Sunday.

On Monday they’ll be at the mission schools and clinics conducting health assessments and teaching preventive health, then visiting orphan homes, etc. We miss being there with them this time around.

Amid meetings and short trips here and there to share with churches, we’re keeping busy with other things as well.

Dwight is renewing his instrument rating on his pilot’s license. He’s doing this with long-time friend, Bob Guzak. They ran into a little snag last week when there was no plane available here for use, so they did an all-nighter and drove to Mara Lake, B.C. where they picked up Bob’s plane and flew it back to Edmonton so they could continue with their review and flying.

As for me, I managed to squeeze in a few hours of studying my “Introductory Statistics” course. Yay…everything I ever wanted to know (or not) about Standard Deviation, Chebyshev’s Theorem, and more! I know that the actual nursing courses, once I get to them, will prove vital to my community health work in Mozambique. In the meantime, I just have to stay the course through the tough stuff. And not quit. And get help from my daughter. “Aaagh! A-MAN-daaaaaaa?! What do I do here again??!”

And don’t you quit either. There’s a harvest out there and apparently the workers are few already!

Take care and ttyl.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Working together for good

Edmontonians were incredulous (and rather dismayed, I might add) when once again, last week, it dared to snow. Once again we dragged warm jackets from storage closets. I'm sure that even the potted plants that have waited patiently to be transplanted outdoors had cabin fever. I was told that the temperature dipped as low as -7 Celcius. Nasty for May, but the snow flakes were sure beautiful anyway. I even went so far as to say that publicly to the rest of disappointed Albertans. (Not face-to-face, of course, but rather on an internet forum (a safe distance away...heh). I think I was alone on that one though.

See the lovely white spots? That's the snow.

Thankfully things warmed up and by the weekend and we had a warm, sunny day for the SAM Ministries’ 7th Annual Banquet. To me, this is a celebration of wonderful things and working together!

Here we are getting set up for it:

Arranging the tables to seat +/- 100 people--as spaciously as possible.

(In photo: my parents)

Getting food preparation underway in the church kitchen.

Left to right: Wally Fletcher, Patti Green (SAM office administrator), Lil Fletcher, and my Mom. 

Wally and Lil do some amazing work including catering the SAM banquets each year, and printing mission brochures, books, literature.

Lil, Steve Lagore (Dwight's brother, SAM Secretary and banquet M.C.), Wally, and Dwight

Dwight, his Dad, and Patti work together to set up the display board,

 which I then get to hang pictures on. That’s the fun part :P

Table with items to be raffled off during the evening.

Items used as “center-pieces” on the tables that are given away as door prizes. The giraffe’s were REAL cute and goofy-looking, but unfortunately the camera I took this photo with didn’t capture it very well. (That’s it, blame the camera. It wasn't my usual camera though, so I feel quite justified.)

Once things are all set up, it’s time for the event to begin. There’s always lots of greeting and hugging and talking as everyone arrives.

Here I am talking with my Auntie Dorothy (one of my many very special aunts).

We start off with a great meal. Then the program begins and updates are given from both the Mozambique and Brazil fields. After that (although not necessarily in that order), different people who are involved in a number of ways (walk-a-thons, fund raisers, visitors, etc.) share their experiences as well.

This is Kelly Maxwell (right).

She spear-headed the Thorsby Elementary School’s “Dollars for Desks” fundraiser which raised enough money to buy 24 desks last year. It was rather cool that she won the Mozambican wood-carvings as a door prize.

There was certainly no shortage of heart-warming stories this year. Here we are with Janette (middle-left) and Wilma (far right).

Last year, Janette was scheduled to join us in Mozambique for a short-term mission’s trip, but she had to cancel at the last minute because she was diagnosed with cancer. She has had surgery and is currently undergoing chemo. This has been a very difficult and challenging time for her and her experience certainly merits more than this brief paragraph in my blog post (I trust to follow up with a more comprehensive account of her struggles and victories).

Through it all, Janette’s commitment to the needs in Mozambique remains constant. She and Wilma surprised us with an amazing story of some of the good that has come from her trials: their efforts, and the compassion of others, has resulted in over $9,000 in donations toward the Orphans and Widows Program in Mozambique! We’re so honoured by their labour of love.

Let me close this time with a heart-felt THANK YOU to all of you who work together with us to achieve good things.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things Past and Present

When I was a kid, some of my non-Canadian friends used to laugh about my hometown’s name: Squamish. They thought it sounded like “squash” (which, of course, it does). The fact that it was just a very small, non-descript, logging town in the Canadian mountains certainly didn’t help prop up this rather pathetic mental image either. From what I read on this sign though, it is now the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada”. Squamish is located about half way between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. (which is the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games). So Squamish is now on the map and it has certainly changed over the years.

On our way home from Vancouver, we decided (my dad, mom, sister, husband and I) to come through Squamish, BC. That’s where I was born and lived until I was 6. Most of my memories of our time in Squamish are amazingly clear.

This is the road through the beautiful area where we lived until I was 3 or 4 years old. It used to be called “Skunk Hollow” (I don’t think I shared this particular name with my friends for obvious reasons). The name has now been changed to Valley View.

We lived in this house (that my dad built) until I was about 7 years old. The window on the left was the bedroom my sister and I shared. This is the room where I was afraid of the imaginary bears under my bed and where I spent a fair share of falling-asleep time peeking at my dolls through nearly shut eyelids. I was 5 at the time and I was quite sure my dolls came to life and played once I was safely asleep. Never did catch them at it though.

We used to play in this tree and I was amazed to find it still standing.

We spent a few hours visiting old places and friends, then we carried on to Salmon Arm that same day.

Hairpin curve in highway through mountains.

We’re now back in Edmonton aka “Snow City” since it seems to want to keep snowing off and on despite the fact that people here are already wearing summer attire and driving their convertibles!

Anyway, onto a bit of other news.

For about 6 months now, we’ve been working toward the construction of an airstrip on the Mozambique mission. We’ve had to start from scratch by clearing the land for the landing strip:

A bridge is needed on the airstrip's access road. This will be built with huge logs and will span a ravine.

These mounds of stone on either side of the ravine (which is hard to see in this photo) will be used to build the main supporting cement structures that the logs will rest on. We have no machines like tractors or cranes for this job. It’s all done by hand, one stone and one chopped tree at a time. Only when it is all done will a grader be brought in to make the airstrip as smooth as possible. No one likes a bumpy take-off or landing.

An important partner in this airstrip project is Mercy Air, South Africa.

Us with Ron and Barb Wayner, Mercy Air S.A. founders

Mercy Air’s plan is to co-locate with us in Mozambique to better serve both our work and the needs of numerous others. We are confident that together we can do things so much better than alone. A Mercy Air staff house is currently under construction.

I should close for now since this has been a pretty long post. Take care and ttyl!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Loving Care

It's Mother's Day so I thought it was a good chance to post these photos that Heather took with my camera a few months ago. These are Mozambican moms with their babies strapped on in customary fashion, by a piece of cloth. The upside is that babies are generally pretty content swaying to and fro everywhere on mom’s back, be it to the well to fetch water or working in the fields with a hoe. The downside is—not much of a break for mom! Notice that the mom on the right has twins…one carried on the back, one on the front. Wow! Not all moms do things quite like this, but either way, a mom’s job is a busy one that requires life-long commitment and love. I want to take this chance to say thank you to my own mom, and to all moms for their loving care—we love you!

This week we've continued our trek to and fro across the land...

We've been to home and small group meetings and have been so honoured by: 1) Those who give of themselves in a number of ways that helps share hope to people who are half the world away, and 2) The willingness of friends and family to go out of their way to help us promote/raise awareness of the needs in Mozambique. There's a lot of work involved in getting these things organized. There's: driving, talking, inviting, booking, cleaning up before, shopping, cooking, cleaning (and so on and so on) and following up on after—all for the sake of loving and caring for others in need. Here are a few shots of those things happening this week.

My mom and aunt getting Mother's Day pancakes underway. What fun!

I’m moving on to my last paragraph now and I’m giving you fair warning that there are reptile and bug photos ahead. (Yes, even though I’m not even in Africa!) It seems these things are the object of affection, or at least interest, for some.

This is Yoda, my niece and her husband’s pet Panther chameleon. Pretty, huh?

Below is his dinner…cockroaches. And get this: they’re especially bred cockroaches (for the purpose of being dinner). I’m imagining Dwight’s mom’s response to this right now—and that reminds me of a funny story I may just tell sometime.

Feeding Yoda.

A delightful and delighted crowd (I didn't post photos of their other expressions). 

Well, I should go spend the rest of Mother’s Day with my family. And remember to give your (or at least a) mom a hug today!

PS: Please note the changes on this blog’s sidebar, I’ve included info on upcoming events.

PPS: Apparently I forgot to mention what happened with that course I was preparing to write a final exam on in March. Well, I wrote it and did fine.  Now on to the next course: Introductory Statistics. Wish me luck. And yes I know, luck has nothing to do with it--tutoring from my daughter, on the other hand, will likely be the "make or break" factor!

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Blessing That Comes After Obedience

I got a message on Facebook from someone recently, and it concluded with the words above. Those words struck a chord with me at the time, and in fact, sort of became the theme of this week. Truth is, obedience isn’t always a fun or “feel good” thing. But it’s the right thing to do. The nice thing about obedience is that it smiles at you after the fact.

Yesterday, we had the privilege of visiting the students and staff at Thorsby Elementary School who recently raised funds to purchase 24 desks for our bush school in Mozambique. It was our pleasure to bring back a personal thank you and video report from the Mozambican children who were so blessed by the compassion and efforts of these kids to help provide much-needed desks.

First, we had to get set up.

And just about the time when we got all the systems working right, the kids filed in.

We had fun answering questions for some of them afterwards.

My guess is that during their fund raising work, some of their activities were fun, but there was probably some “doing it because it’s right” in there too. There always is with any worthwhile venture. But it was sure fun to see the video of Mozambican kids smiling, singing and cheering as those desks were delivered to the school!

It was with sad hearts that we then went from the Thorsby School to Wetaskiwin where we attended the funeral service of our dear friend, Pastor Ed Breitkreuz. Ed came to serve the mission in Mozambique several times over the past 5 years. Mozambique is not an easy place to be but Ed always seemed to be game for the challenge, and he always did this with a willing heart whether it was building in the bush with crude supplies, relating cross-culturally, teaching pastors, or even trying out new, strange foods. And he did it all with a motto that was obvious to everyone around him: no task too large or too small. Ed and Doreen have blessed the work in Mozambique in more ways than we can count and I will try to relate just a few of those ways through the photos that follow:

Working on buildings so we could have a home, office, clinic, etc.:

The health post (above) getting its roof, and now it is finished and functional (below)

Connecting with people:

We as a mission are honoured that the Breitkreuz family has selected the Training Centre in Mozambique to be the beneficiary of any memorial gifts. Ed’s visits will be missed by many in Mozambique, but his legacy remains.

Training Center foundation being poured, March 2009.

Tomorrow we head for Fort McMurray, then on Wednesday we're off to Seattle and several B.C. destinations. Living out of a suitcase isn't fun, but for now, it's the right thing to do.  :)