Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sneak Peek...

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I just thought I'd give you a sneak peek at what I'll be doing for Christmas, 2010...

Can't wait!!!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever."

Isaiah 9:6-7

Wishing you and your family a Christmas filled with joy as you celebrate the One who came to make all things new.
 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Official...





After countless hours of stressing over every little detail of the application form and the required accompanying documents, it's all over... The weather for the drive could not have been better, the ambassador was super friendly, even thanking me for helping his people and wishing me a good trip and, best of all, it only took ten minutes!

No turning back now... Congo here I come!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Prayer Request

Tomorrow I am going to the Congolese Embassy to apply for my Visa... Could you please pray that everything goes smoothly? Pray that the weather would be good (I'm driving to Ottawa to submit my application), that the ambassador would be friendly (I am easily intimidated by government officials, especially when they don't speak English), that they would be able to process my Visa quickly and that I would be able to get it that same day and not have to leave my passport or, if I do have to leave my passport to be mailed back to me, that nothing would happen to it.

Thanks! I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Baskets


This weekend was West Island Mission's annual Christmas basket distribution.

438 people fed, 201 children with new gifts under the tree, 135 families whose Christmas was made a little brighter this year...





















Thursday, December 10, 2009

Collecting Specific Items for Africa

As I mentioned in my last post, I am going to be collecting specific items to take with me to Africa. In addition to my personal bag, I will have two 50-pound bags to fill with donations for the ministries I will be visiting. In order to make the most of those 100 pounds, I have put together a list of specific items I will be collecting based on the current needs of these ministries. Here's how you can help...

Bring comfort and an opportunity for play and therapeutic expression to orphans of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
- New or gently used Beanie Babies (or stuffed animals of equivalent size)
- Crayons, pencil crayons and paint brushes (I will be purchasing paint and paper in Uganda as they are difficult/heavy to transport)

Donate school supplies for a local school as well as a local sponsorship program in Uganda:
- For Teachers: stickers, pens, chalk, permanent markers, etc.
- For Students: hilroy exercise books (non-spiral), pencils, pens, erasers

Provide for the current needs of Our Own Home, a children's home for children living with HIV/AIDS:
- New or gently used boys clothing (summer) sizes 2T-5
- Boys underwear sizes 6-12
- Deodorant for teenagers (both boys and girls) *already received a donation of 100 each*
- Children's Motrin, Advil or Tylenol (tablets or syrup)
- Children's multivitamins
- Airborne (immune-boosting dietary supplement tablets)

If you would like to donate any of these items or if you have any questions please e-mail me at ambassadoroflove@live.ca.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Heading Back to Uganda...

I didn't have space to say this is my latest newsletter but I'm actually going to be heading back to Uganda pretty soon... Instead of flying into the Congo, which is not so safe, I will be flying into Uganda and taking a bus from there to Bukavo, Congo. And, well, considering Uganda is pretty much my favorite place on earth (so far) I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit some of my favorite friends and ministries :) I'll be spending a total of between 3-6 weeks in Uganda before and after my time in the Congo and I wanted to give you a chance to check out some of the amazing ministries I will be visiting:

- 1MoreChild

- Amani Baby Cottage

- Amazima Ministries

- Kids Club Uganda

- Mark & Sarah Williams / The African Children's Choir

- Our Own Home

Stay tuned for ways you can help by collecting much-needed items for these ministries...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So this is Christmas

Happy December everybody! In my house, the first week of December officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season; the Christmas lights get turned on, Christmas CDs are dusted off and put into the stereo, the Christmas tree goes up and this year the first week of December even included our first snow fall of the season... Christmas is oficially here!



Over the past couple of years I have been struggling with the way our society celebrates Christmas and last year more so than any other year, I just felt like we were missing the point. I would like to share with you some of what I wrote in my journal last year on Christmas day... Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that it is not my intention to judge or offend anyone. I recognize that Christmas is indeed a wonderful time for families to enjoy one another's presence and make beautiful memories. These are simply the reflections of what God has put on my heart...

So, this is Christmas but what does it all mean? This year, more so than any other year, I just feel like we're missing the point. Over the past couple of years I have found myself face to face with the brokenness of this world. What I have seen has changed me, I can no longer live my life in ignorance. The pain of this world has left me broken, I can't go back and, as much as it hurts, I wouldn't even if I could. This year Christmas was different as I spent the months and weeks leading up to it preparing Christmas baskets for nearly 300 families. Our family cut way back on gifts and one could accurately say that this Christmas was more about giving and not really about consumerism at all. And yet this year Christmas left me emptier than ever before. So, what is the point? We know that Christmas isn't really about gifts and parties and stuffing your face full of food so what is it about? Is it about travelling home, spending time with family and making memories? That's what we've been told but where do we get that from? Isaiah 61 says that Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, to release the oppressed, to comfort all who mourn. Jesus was born to poor parents who gave birth to Him in a barn. And who were the first to get to see Him? Lowly shepherds. Throughout Jesus' years on earth He spent time with the poor and the oppressed, the lowly and the outcast. That's what Jesus was all about, so where did we get the idea that Christmas is all about spending time with family and making memories?... There's nothing wrong with a nice family Christmas but if Jesus were here where would He be? The answer is simple, He'd be the same place He was 2000 years ago, with the poor and the lowly. So, what is Christmas all about? How should we celebrate the birth of our Savior? Well, we can spend the day with our family trying to remember and be thankful for all His birth has meant for us or we can go out there and spend the day with Jesus Himself right where He's at, proclaiming good news to the poor, releasing the oppressed, binding up the brokenhearted, comforting those who mourn, continuing the work He started 2000 years ago. So tonight I make a vow thaty next year will be different. I will not just celebrate the season, I will celebrate the Messiah and everything He came to do. I wil spend Christmas day in a soup kitchen or a shelter or Uganda or Cambodia but I will not spend the day wondering what's the point... 

So, that is how God has been challenging me. I won't be spending Christmas in an orphanage like I had hoped but I am determined that I will find a way to spend Christmas with "the least of these"... What about you? What is God calling you to do? I'm not talking about getting rid of all of your family traditions but how about starting a new tradition this year? Give gifts that make a real difference, help out with your local food bank or soup kitchen. Ask God what He would like your family to do in honor of His Son's birthday. Find a way to truly celebrate Jesus and everything He came to do.

Love this song by Matthew West...

Give This Christmas Away

What if I told you, you had the power
To give someone hope beyond they're wildest dreams
What if I told you, it's right there in your hands
In your hands

It's hard to imagine how something so small
Could make all the difference, tear down the tallest wall
What if December looked different this year
What if we all just...

Give this christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there
Give this christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive
When you give this christmas away

It's feeding the hungry, it's serving the poor
It's telling the orphan you're not forgotten anymore
It's doing what love does even when no one's watching you

Give this christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there

Give this christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive
When you give this christmas away

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son
So we could be His hands, His feet, His love

What if I told you, you had the power

To give someone hope far beyond they're wildest dreams
What if December looked different this year

What if we all just...

Give this christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there
Give this christmas away

And your life will be changed by the gift you receive
When you give this christmas away
Give this christmas away
You have the power to give it away

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dreams

Two and a half years ago I sat alone in the middle of the night in the common room of a guesthouse in Kampala, Uganda thinking and praying, knowing that in a few short hours I would be boarding a plane and leaving the country that I loved so much. I was sad, yet as I prayed I knew that God would bring me back to Africa one day. The past two and a half years have held so many highlights, so many wonderful, fruitful moments in ministry, so many blessings and experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world, yet through it all a piece of my heart longed for Africa. Many times I would find myself before God questioning, "You said You would take me back to Africa, but when?". With each day that passed, the more I found myself immersed in life and ministry here, it seemed like that day would never come.

When I was a young teenager, long before I became interested in missions, I saw a W-Five special on orphans in the Ukraine that really stuck with me and I remember thinking, "I want to go there someday". Since then, through reading books like this and learning more about ministries like this, my eyes have been opened and my heart has been broken by the plight of orphans in Eastern Europe. Over the past couple of years God has gradually been laying Eastern Europe on my heart more and more. A dream began to form in my heart that I believed was from God. A dream to go to government-run orphanages in Eastern Europe where children were being neglected and to simply hold them and love them with everything I had. So, I began to pray that God would provide a way for me to go and do just that. The problem was, I didn't know anyone in Eastern Europe and I could not simply hop on a plane to a formerly communist nation where I didn't even speak the language and just walk into a state-run facility and say, "I'm here to love and care for your children because you are doing a horrible job at it"... It seemed impossible.

Fast forward to today... Those of you who read my newsletter know that in less than two months I will be heading back to Africa for four months followed by a seven month trip to work with orphans in the Ukraine (if you did not receive my newsletter but would like to, please e-mail me at ambassadoroflove@live.ca). It may have seemed far off or even impossible at times but God fulfilled the promises He spoke to me! There's a verse from the book of Numbers that I love:
"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Numbers 23:19)

So, I guess my message today is this: Has God promised you something? Do you have a dream in your heart that you believe is from Him? Even if it seems far off or impossible... don't give up because God always keeps His promises.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mission... POSSIBLE!

This Saturday, from 2:00-4:00 at Westview Bible Church (corner of St. Charles & Peirrefonds Blvd), myself along with three other young women who I love (namely Casey Watts, Danielle Pierre and Suzanne Bisaillion) will be participating in a panel discussion on missions.
So, if you are a woman between the ages of 13 and 113 and are interested in hearing more about missions and learning how you can be involved please, come and join us.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at ambassadoroflove@live.ca

Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Only 44 Shoping Days Left!

Do you ever get tired of the commercialism  of Christmas? The constant advertising, the crowded stores and that which I dread the most, the stress of finding a gift for that person on your list who has everything. Over the past couple of years it seemed like everyone on my list had begun to fall into that category and I was just buying stuff that they neither wanted or needed... Ever since I was a little girl one of my favorite Christmas songs was Amy Grant's Grown Up Christmas List (re-done by Plus One in 2002 as "A Prayer For Every Year"). Anyway, last year our family cut back on gifts in attempt to give more to those who are truly in need and in the process, I was inspired to write my own version of what my "grown-up Christmas list" would look like. I wanted to share that list with you, along with some links to organizations that I love that are working towards accomplishing those items on my list. Maybe it will give you some gift ideas for that person who, although they may not be on your list, does not have anything...

Do You remember me?
Long ago on bended knee

I prayed to You
With childhood fantasy
Well I’m all grown up now
Would You still help somehow
I’m not a child
But my heart still can dream


So hear my prayerful wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need


That we would learn to share our wealth
(Kiva: Micro loans empowering the working poor to lift themselves out of poverty)
That the sick might know good health
(Health Partners International: increasing access to medicine and improving health in the developing world)
And the oppressed be helped
(International Justice Mission (Canada / US): securing justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression)
That every child would have a home
(Our Own Home: providing a home for orphans living with HIV/AIDS)
And no one would feel alone
(L’Arche Daybreak (Canada / US): a place of belonging for people living with intellectual disabilities)
But Your love would be made known
(Amazima Ministries: sharing Christ's love with over 400 children in Uganda, East Africa)
This is my grown-up Christmas list


Too often we’re consumed
With our own families
With buying gifts
To place beneath our tree


But there’s so many in need
Help us open up our eyes
Reach out and let
Compassion rule our lives


That we would learn to share our wealth
(Please Help Me: providing assistance to children and families in Montreal’s Cloverdale community)
That the sick might know good health
And the oppressed be helped
(Project Genesis: assisting people to better understand and defend their social and economic rights)
That every child would have a home
(Reece’s Rainbow: special needs adoption ministry)
And no one would feel alone
(Tim Huff / Light Patrol: reaching out to and caring for the homeless)
But Your love would be made known
(Options Crisis Pregnancy Center: providing unconditional love, acceptance and assistance to those facing unexpected pregnancies)
This is my grown-up Christmas list


There’s no excuse, we have been called
There’s something we can do
Help us love the world with open arms
And then let Your light shine through


That we would learn to share our wealth




That the sick might know good health




And the oppressed be helped




That every child would have a home




And no one would feel alone




But Your love would be made known




This is my grown-up Christmas list


This is my only life-long wish


This is my prayer for everyone

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Scripture

In honor of Orphan Sunday, here are some verses I am meditating on today...

Deuteronomy 10:17-18 – “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”

Psalm 10:14, 17-18 – “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless… You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”

Psalm 68:5-6 – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing...”

Psalm 146:7-9 – “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow…”

Hosea 14:3 – “…in you the fatherless find compassion.”

John 4:18 – “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2 Years, 3 Months and Two Days...

That's how long I have been waiting to type these words... I AM GOING BACK TO AFRICA!!!
A few weeks ago I wrote about how God's plans are always best and right. I truly believe that God's plans for me are best and I can honestly say that I have been totally at peace with whatever God had in store for me, whether or not that included going back to Africa. Still, lately it seems like everywhere I turn I am reminded of the plight of the children in Africa and my heart's cry has simply been,
"Here I am, Lord. I am willing. Send me!"
Well, I'm still working out the details but I got the call yesterday and it's official... I'm going back :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Orphan Sunday



This coming Sunday, November 8th, is Orphan Sunday. According to the latest statistics, there are approximately 147 million orphans living in our world today. It's a huge number, I know, and it's hard to imagine what one person could do but here's another statistic... 2.1 billion - that's the number of Christians living in our world today. All of a sudden 147 million doesn't seem so huge, it no longer seems like such an insurmountable problem. If simply one out every fourteen Christians did something to help just one orphan, the world's orphan crisis could be solved. So, what can you do? Sponsor a child who has lost their parents through World Vision, Compassion International, Christian Children's Fund or any other sponsorship program so that they can go to school, receive food and medical care, etc. Support an orphanage (here is one of my favorites). Foster a child from within our own child welfare system. Come Along Side a family you know (or don't know) that is adopting and support them in prayer and/or financially. Adopt a child into your family. Even if you can't do any of those things right now, would you set aside sometime on Sunday, November 8th to pray for the millions of children around the world who will go to bed tonight without a Daddy to wrestle with or call them "Princess", without a Mommy to offer kisses when they fall and scrape their knee or tuck them into bed at night.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..."     James 1:27

How will you look after the orphan?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Quote of the Day...

"If you are not adequately equipped for the journey, you will grow weary and lose heart. Relax in ME while I ready you for action."
From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

So, things for me trip to Africa seem to be moving at the same speed as my trip to Jamaica... At this point, I have no idea whether I will end up going or not. Hopefully I'll know soon, in the meantime I am doing my best to relax in Him and allow Him to ready me for action.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I'm Doing Now

So, given that I'm around for at least a couple more months, I'm sure that you all are wondering what I'm doing now... Well, I'm doing my best to keep busy. I still see the girls fairly often, visit the center, and do one-on-ones once a week. I'm also involved once again with West Island Mission's annual Christmas basket distribution. As many of you may remember, last year I headed up WIM's Christmas basket committee. This year my mom has taken over that job however I am back on the committee and am thrilled to be working again with this amazing group of people. This year I am once again responsible for all the children's gifts. So, no, I will not be at an orphanage for Christmas but as I find myself counting, sorting and wrapping hundreds of gifts for children that might otherwise not receive anything this Christmas, how can I not be happy?

For those of you who are local, did you know that...

- 14.7% of the population covered by the Pierrefonds CLSC live below the poverty level
(CLSC Pierrefonds covers Pierrefonds, Ste-Genevieve, DDO, Roxboro & Ile-Bizard) 
- 27% of the Sainte-Genevieve population lives under the poverty level
- 8.4% of the population covered by the Lac St-Louis CLSC live below the poverty level
- The average annual revenues of an underprivileged family living in the Cloverdale area of Pierrefonds is $12,000

These statistics are from 2004 and it is believed that those percentages have only grown higher in recent years. I know I often talk about the many needs on the other side of the world but this is our community and there are people in need right here in our own backyard. So, I'd like to invite you to get involved in helping West Island Mission reach out to those in need right here on the West Island. Here are some ways you can help: Volunteer to assist with our Christmas basket registration during the week of November 1st; Donate non-perishable food or new, unwrapped toys; Collect food/toys from your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers; Come help us assemble up to 300 Christmas baskets on Friday, December 11th; Show up to deliver baskets to families in need on Saturday, December 12th.

If you’re interested in helping in any of these areas or if you want more information please e-mail me at: ambassadoroflove@live.ca

Finally, for those of you reading this that aren't local, sorry, I know this doesn't apply to you too much but I'm sure that there is a food bank in your area that could use your help... :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

How quickly we forget...

For the past year I have been reading through my bible in chronological order (as a side note, it has been very interesting and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to study the bible in a fresh new way). The other day I came to the account of how Jesus fed four thousand men, plus women and children, with just seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (Matthew 15 / Mark 8). When Jesus tells his disciples that He wants to feed all those people they respond by saying, “Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed such a crowd?” An understandable reaction given the seeming impossibility of the task… EXCEPT just two days before I had read about how Jesus had fed five thousand men, plus women and children, with only five loaves of bead and two fish! The disciples had seen Jesus do it before and yet here they were, questioning how they would ever come up with enough bread. At first I was shocked, even disgusted at their audacity and lack of faith given that they had just witnessed Jesus perform that very same miracle. Then I realized that I am no different… I have seen God work everything out for me countless yet here I am, wondering how the details for the coming months of my life are ever going to come together. Oh, how quickly we forget… So, I cling to the knowledge that God has worked things out for me before and He will do it again.

LOVE this verse…

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.”
Psalm 138:8

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stand Up



Join me in standing up to end poverty... From October 16-18, click below to add your voice to the millions who refuse to view poverty as acceptable.



“If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speaks out at the same time, the noise will be deafening. Politicians will have to listen.”          Desmond Tutu

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Plans"

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose for him that prevails."
(Proverbs 19:21)

So, I guess it's time to update you on what I'm doing or, better put, what I'm not doing. For the last couple months I have been working on going back to Jamaica for two months from mid-November to mid-January. As you know, the plight of the children there really grabbed my heart and I wanted to go back for a longer period to get a better understanding of what life is like for these kids. There is a children's home I had heard of that takes in children who have been abandoned and I was really interested in being a part of the work they are doing. Anyway, I was having a really hard time getting in touch with the people I needed to get in touch with but I still thought it would all fall together. Over the last couple of days however I have learned of a few more obstacles and I have come to believe that this is God's way of closing the door for me to go back to Jamaica, at least for now.

I am disappointed, in part because I was looking forward to going back to Jamaica and even more so because it has been my dream for several years now to spend Christmas in an orphanage and I was excited to see that dream become a reality. Over the last few days I have been reminded of the words of Henry Blackaby which I actually taught to the girls this summer:
God is Love: His will is always best
God is All-Knowing: His directions are always right
There have been many times in my life when things did not go the way I had planned and in the end I was so glad they didn't. The best example of that was when it seemed as though the women's shelter would not be getting the government grant they needed in order to hire me on for the summer, I job I adored. A couple short months later however I was on a plane on my way to Africa for the first time, an experience that obviously changed my life... I know from experience that God's plans are always right and best and so, while I am still a little disappointed, I am thankful that it is God's plans and not mine that prevail.

I don't know if God will open the door for me to return to Jamaica some other time or if Jamaica was simply that which I needed to push me over the edge in my decision to leave my job and go into missions. What I do know is that I'm back to square one. I would appreciate your prayers... If I am going to go somewhere for Christmas then those details are going to have to get settled in the next few days. Otherwise, please pray that I would find something(s) to fill my time while I wait.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Much To Say...

Sorry it's been so long since I updated... I know many of you are anxious to hear what I'm going to be doing next and I have a few things in the works but nothing's confirmed yet so, in the meantime, there's not much to say. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers and kind words in regards to Jonathan. With all the time I've had on my hands, I've found myself thinking of Him often and praying regularly for his family (please continue to keep Mama Katherine as well as her husband and other children in your prayers). God's mercy is a beautiful thing however and in the midst of my sorrow over Jonathan's death, another little boy whom I have loved and prayed for from afar has found a family who will soon be showering him with much-needed love. A timely reminder for me that God, the One who sets the lonely in families, is still at work on behalf of the orphans of this world.

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)

While I wait for all the details surrounding the next few months of my life to come together, I look back over the past few years of my life and I see how God has been equipping me for all that lies ahead and how He has been working in my heart, transforming my desires in such a way that they reflect His, thereby making them more are more pleasing to Him. And so, whatever it is that's around the next corner for me, I'm excited! In the meantime, I pray that He would continue to shape me and mold me and equip me with everything good, that He alone may receive all the glory.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jonathan

I hadn’t intended on starting off my new blog with such a sad post but I have to talk about this… For those of you who have been following my journey for some time now you may remember Jonathan, my Ugandan “son”. Jonathan arrived at Amani Baby Cottage the same day I did, recently abandoned and diagnosed as depressed by our nurse, constantly crying, refusing to eat, etc. Over the course of our three months together however, I saw God work a miracle of healing in his heart and I was even there to witness his first smile! Yesterday morning I found out that on July 25th, Jonathan died (you can read the whole story here or here). When I first read the news the pain I felt was so intense I could barely catch my breath. For those who have never mothered a child not your own, I’m sure it must be hard to understand why I would be so upset over a child on the other side of the world who I haven’t seen in over two years. All I can say is that for three months, that boy was my son and I have carried him in my heart ever since. I loved Jonathan with my whole heart and love like that comes at a cost; at times like this, that cost is pain.

Ever since I decided I wanted to become a social worker, and even more as I have become more and more involved with orphaned and abandoned children, people have asked me, “Are you sure you want to do this? Don’t you realize how painful it’s going to be?” I know that you cannot work with children like this without ever getting hurt but I have decided not to run away from pain. I am a Christian and as such, I have been called to suffer for Jesus. Philippians 1:29 says – “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him”. Now, when I think of suffering for Christ I think of persecution, imprisonment and martyrdom but what does that mean in our 21st century North American world? I used to think that verse did not apply to me but then, a little over a year ago, I read this post and this post on someone else’s blog and it changed the way I look at things. We often use the word compassion but do we know what it means? Directly translated, the word compassion means: “to suffer with”. Jesus was a man of compassion. He did not shy away from pain but entered into the suffering of those around Him, touching the ‘untouchables’, eating with society's rejects in their homes, crying with Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died. Jesus lived a life of love that cost Him greatly, a love that ultimately cost Him everything when He gave up His life for those He loved. Jesus chose love over the avoidance of pain. The thing is, as a Christian I am called to be like Jesus. What’s more, Jesus says: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). And so for me, suffering for Christ means suffering with the “least of these”, even when it hurts.

One thing struck me as I read the blog posts about Jonathan’s death. At his funeral, the orphanage director pointed out that Jonathan died loved. You see, Jonathan was abandoned as a baby and if he hadn’t been brought to a good orphanage he may never have known love. But instead he was brought to Amani where he was loved by volunteers like me, by the staff that worked there, and ultimately by the local family that adopted him. Jonathan died loved. Surely it would have been easier for his family if they had never taken this little boy into their home, they could have avoided all the pain they are experiencing now. But this is what Jonathan’s father had to say: “We prayed over the child we would adopt. That God would give us someone to love…” They chose love and for a once orphaned boy, orphan no longer, it made all the difference.

And so, with a brokenness that words cannot express, I will mourn and cry for this precious little boy whom I loved so dearly. And, I will continue to love wholeheartedly, without fear or hesitation, not holding anything back, no matter what the cost, because love is always worth it. Maybe this is the perfect first post after all because this is why I do what I do… Because of sweet little boys like Jonathan who deserve to know love.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back from Jamaica

I thought it would be fitting to start my new blog off with this entry since where I am now has a lot to do with this trip to Jamaica...


Hi everyone! Sorry it’s taken me so long to update my blog. I’ve been back from Jamaica for a week now but it’s amazing how fast I’ve gotten caught up in daily life. Anyway, I am anxious to tell you about my trip…

First, let me say that it is HOT over there! With temperatures averaging at about 35 degrees (not taking into account the humidity) it was definitely a bit of a shock to our bodies. Despite the heat however, we managed to get a good amount of work done (we learned quickly and started our days at 5:00 a.m. in order to beat the heat). Our work projects consisted mostly of painting the inside and outside of the church’s preschool as well as several other buildings within the church compound and a couple of classrooms at a government-run school just down the road. The two men on our team worked especially hard and were also able to put in door locks and security bars over several windows at the church as well as install some solar panels for a couple of local families without electricity. Without a doubt however, the highlight of the trip for me was our VBS program. We started off our first day with about 50 kids and peaked towards the end of the week at about 100. The kids come from harsh environments and it certainly wasn’t easy but God showed His faithfulness to us in so many ways, bringing a tangible peace over our camp and ensuring that His message came across loud and clear. There is so much I could say about the kids, the culture, etc. but I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Instead, I would like to introduce you to one little boy who has stolen all of our hearts forever:


This is Kemar – he just turned eight years old. Kemar’s father is long gone and, in some twisted attempt to get back at his dad, his mother wants nothing to do with him. When we met him, Kemar was, for the most part, living with his grandmother however, for whatever reason she was unable to take very good care of him. Kemar is ostracised by his whole community; his teachers throw rocks at him, men in the streets taunt him, the women shout curses at him and the other children pick on him. By the end of our two weeks in Jamaica some local drug-addicted thieves had taken advantage of Kemar’s vulnerability and he was living with and working for them. It’s hard to hear Kemar’s story and feel any amount of hope for his future but the theme of our VBS, the message we shared all week with the children, is just as true for Kemar as it is for any one of us: God has good plans for Kemar. God’s good plans for Kemar were evidenced in his strength and resilience, in his smile and moments of pure sweetness. They were evidenced by the fact that even though he has faced unbelievable hardships, the following words were still uttered from his lips: “God loves me”, “God is my Father”, “God has good plans for me!”…


Kemar will forever be etched on my heart but sadly, his story is not that unique. There are millions more children all around the world just like Kemar. Unwanted, unloved. Thrown away and forgotten by the rest of society but not by their Heavenly Father. Would join me in rising up to pray, not only for Kemar but for every child around the world just like him? These are God’s sons and daughters and, no matter what anyone else may say or do, no matter how much we may struggle to see or believe it, He has good plans for them.