Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A mother's heart

Last week I met an older woman who was talking to me about her daughter, who is dying of AIDS. There was such tenderness in the way she was saying, "you know, when she was a little girl, she was just so nice. I can remember rocking her in my arms when she was just a baby, and she was just so sweet. Such a nice girl..."
Mothers all around the world are suffering for their kids, and seeing them as precious, and little, and nice and sweet. A mother's heart...
They say we'll likely be attending a lot of funerals in Zimbabwe. That's a lot of suffering mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and friends.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


My friend Steph is one of the most courageous people I know. Right now she is battling cancer, and undergoing a stem cell transplant. Steph is a survivor. The nurse told me she never complains.
Steph has a beautiful heart - always thinking of others, and showing an interest in other people's lives. She is also always stylin' (and doesn't look down on people who aren't - whew), she's an amazing cook, and she is hilarious. Steph's faith astounds me. She is wise too...
I have been praying fervently for Steph for over a year, and ask you to join me. Please, please pray for my friend Stephanie. Pray for healing - physical, emotional and spiritual. Pray for comfort and peace for her and her family.
If you want to see her photo, check out the University of Toronto Gospel Choir link on this site, and when you enter the UTGC site, you'll see a moving photo of choir members. She's the third to "appear."
Steph - I love you, and I'm so grateful for the influence you have on my life.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Boundless magazine launches

I'm writing from my empty apartment, sitting on a cardboard box with my laptop balancing on my knees. The moving company came this morning and took all of our stuff away to be placed in storage. It's hard to believe that we'll be moving out of the country in a matter of months.

During breaks from cleaning, I've been doing some work on the boundless website with my friends Brandon and Jeremy. There's still much to tighten up, but we're going ahead and launching the site. The monthly mag is up today, as well as an experiment in podcasting (but I may pull it off the site soon).

Check it out and let me know what you think.

We're off to Galen's cottage soon, so have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


A few weeks ago I was talking with my friend Nedim and telling him how
grateful I feel for my life, and how thankful I am for all the
opportunities I've had (to go to university, to travel, to be part of
614 in Regent Park, etc.). He looked at me, and said that it makes
sense that I have a good life, because I've always had a lot of
choices. He said that most people in this world don't have a lot of
choice - that most people in this world have once choice, and that
that choice usually isn't all that great of an option.

My friend Nedim is brilliant, and - obviously - wise.

I have wasted so much time in my life agonizing over the choices I
have to make - from major life decisions to silly "what movie should
we rent?" decisions. There's that phrase, "the burden of choice" but
shouldn't we just be a bit more grateful that we have so many choices?

I guess I really want to choose well. I want to make choices that will
never forget about those who don't have choice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brother Roger's funeral

The funeral celebration for Brother Roger was held yesterday. Here are two excerpts from the address by Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians:

The first split that hurt Brother Roger concerned the division between Christians. From his youth he united himself to Christ’s prayer “that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). He wanted to live the faith of the undivided Church, without breaking with anybody, in a great brotherhood. He believed above all in the ecumenism of holiness, that holiness which changes the depths of the soul and which alone leads towards full communion…

The second split that hurt Brother Roger concerned the division between peoples and nations, between rich and poor countries. Every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad. He wanted some Brothers of the community to go and live in several countries with the poorest of the poor, in small groups, as a simple sign of love and communion. This simple witness was very dear to him, like a prophecy in miniature of the Kingdom of God, like a seed of friendship and reconciliation in a world plagued by indifference. For Brother Roger, there was complete continuity between the love of God and the love of human beings, between prayer and commitment, between action and contemplation…

For the complete address, click here.

From Honduras with love

There has been a new guy coming to our church - Fernando - and his
family is from Honduras. We were chatting on Sunday, and I was
mentioning that we might be going to the ballet. I got his number and
called him Monday night to let him know we were still going, and that
he was welcome to come if he wanted. His reply on the phone was
something like, "Really? This is a miracle! This means I really have a
friend in Canada. And not just a friend, but a brother and sister!"
And I got off the phone, and cried (of course).

It reminded me of a couple of years ago when I met another guy from
Honduras - Pedro. I met him right when he moved to Canada, and then
saw him about a month later as he was going down some steps into the
subway. I was calling out his name, and he looked so confused. Finally
he looked up at me and got this huge smile on his face. He said, "I
didn't know that anyone in Canada knew my name."

This is a very cold country, and it breaks my heart that someone could
be here for over a year and not have made a single Canadian friend.
For God's sake, let's love our neighbours.

P.S. The National Ballet of Canada was great. We ended up going with
Joel, Matt and Phil as well. I never thought I'd go to the ballet with
5 guys!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Weekend at James & Lindsay's

We spent the weekend at James (John's brother) and Lindsay's in
Kitchener. It was great fun. We ate well (Lindsay's a chef and James
has a way with omelettes) and had good conversation. We watched
Anchorman, and James took us to the Elora Gorge - and it was gorgeous
(pictures to follow soon in the photo section). We also got to spend
quality time with the kids (cats) - Lytton and Dora.

James has the biggest Star Wars collection I have ever seen. It will
soon be made (more) famous on this blog, but you will have to wait a
bit for pics.

Thanks for the good time - we love you guys!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My brother's engaged!

This afternoon, my baby brother Josh proposed to Jennifer Burr, and she accepted! They're engaged!

We were at Yonge & Dundas, downtown Toronto. 11 random people came up and asked, "are you Jenn?" and gave her roses. And then the 12th rose came from Joshua, and he got down on his knee.

It was so romantic! God bless this beautiful couple. I pray blessing and joy and love for you. Congrats, Josh and Jenn!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Holy shame

I’ve just finished reading the Ezra-Nehemiah narratives. Many people avoid the Old Testament like the plague (or at least like falling hail, rampant frogs and festering boils), but if you can get through the strange names (and Adonikam took with him Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur) and long lists of numbers (the half share was 337,500 sheep, 36,000 cattle and 30,500 donkeys), there’s some great stuff to experience.

Anyway, as I dodged around the name droppings in Ezra 8, I stopped hard in my tracks at verse 22. Ezra is about to return from exile to Jerusalem with King Artaxerxes’ permission and with rich possessions for the Temple. In verse 21, he proclaims a fast, humbles himself before God and asks for a safe journey (lots of bandits and enemies on the way to Jerusalem from Mesopotamia). Then, at verse 22, Ezra tells us that he was ashamed to ask King Artaxerxes for protection because he had already told the king about how God was so great and that He would watch over him. Ezra realizes that if he truly believes God will watch over him, he doesn’t need the king’s soldiers to protect him. And God comes through for Ezra, leading him to Jerusalem safely.

Holy shame. Most of us are familiar with unholy shame, the kind that pushes us into ungodly actions (such as Adam and Eve trying to cover themselves up in the garden). But Ezra is filled with a type of shame that propels him to holiness.

If we’re going to tell people about how great and powerful God is, and how He is so compassionate, gracious and loving, we’ve got to live that out in our own lives. If we truly believe God has a plan for us, why do we make so many decisions without consulting Him? If we truly trust that He will look after us, why do we get so worried and stressed about things?

Let’s get filled with some holy shame and start living out what we’re preaching.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Brother Roger

During the evening prayer yesterday at Taizé, a woman - probably mentally disturbed - struck Brother Roger violently with knife blows. He died a few moments later. For those of you who have been to Taizé, participated in a local Taizé service or read some of Brother Roger’s writings, you will understand the loss so many around the world are experiencing today.

Please pray for the Taizé community, that it will continue to be a source of renewal for young people (and old) around the world. And for Brother Alois who is succeeding him.

And also for the woman who stabbed Brother Roger.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Crying and driving

I have driven more this summer than in my entire life prior. We've got my parents' car (thanks Mom & Dad) and so I've been driving quite a bit.

For many, many years I was afraid of driving (long story), but this summer I seem to have (mostly) conquered that fear. Two times recently I've been on long drives and I've been listening to gospel music and I've cried while driving. Do not be alarmed - it wasn't enough tears to distract me! But I just realized that God is good, and when we focus on Him, our fears seem to melt away.

Seeing as most people do not have a fear of driving, this may seem like a silly post, but it's been a big deal for me. So there! :)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Monday morning thoughts

Read these today and decided to pass them on...

In the first centuries of Christianity the hungry were fed at a personal sacrifice, the naked were clothed at a personal sacrifice, the homeless were sheltered at a personal sacrifice... And the pagans used to say about the Christians, "See how they love each other." In our own day the poor are no longer fed, clothed and sheltered at a personal sacrifice, but at the expense of the taxpayers. And because of this the pagans say about the Christians, "See how they pass the buck."
- Peter Maurin, in Easy Essays

What we would like to do is change the world - make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute - the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor in other words - we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world.

We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbour, to love our enemy as well as our friend.
- Dorothy Day, in Meditations

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm in love

I have to admit it - I am crazy in love with John.

For a long time I have had the dream of living in Africa. John has
never been to the continent, and I was trying to convince him to go
with me for a summer, but just before Christmas he decided that we
should give it a try - for 3 years! And he has done SO much "stuff"
(paperwork, packing, researching, calling, e-mailing, etc.) to make my
dream come true. And I am sincerely grateful.

John always looks out for me. He's patient with my computer illiteracy
and always takes care of me when I'm sick. He's an awesome cook, kind
and thoughtful, multi-talented, and a good communicator. And, of
course, he's hot - you have to admit it. :)

After a couple months of marriage, I was talking to an older woman who
was visiting our church (a retired officer) and she asked how the
marriage was going. I said something like, "oh, it's great, and I just
love sleeping with John!" "That's nice, dear...."

It IS nice to fall asleep and wake up next to someone that you adore.

Sometimes I just can't believe that I scored John McAlister!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tractor boy

Since *Kieran (aka Tractor Boy) hangs out with me for most of the day on Saturdays, I don't usually see the need to entertain him for the entire time - he was with me for about 8 1/2 hours today. So after a day of games (I lost at MadGab; Rochelle won - bettter talker!), a barbecue (which I burned) and some classic Goonies viewing (great flick), I let him play around on the Internet while I did some packing.

After a few minutes, I remembered that he still hadn't put together his wooden dinosaur kit (a Tyrannosaurus - ROARRR!) I bought him in B.C. Figuring this was a better endeavour than mindless Internet games, I gave him the kit, and then helped him arrange the pieces. Then I went back to my packing. Every so often he'd call out for help and I'd stop what I was doing and give him a hand. On the third occasion, I realized that I was being an absolute idiot. Why wasn't I sitting beside him so that we could work out the puzzle together?

I'm leaving the country soon for three years. *Kieran and I started hanging out when he was six. He turns 11 in November and will be 14 when I return to Canada. I will miss spending time with him. I will miss watching him grow up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Amen to simplicity

We had a friend visit from South Africa last year and he was amazed by
our little apartment and simple way of living. I guess we don't really
live the "American dream" but we're happy (and, admittedly, a little
HOT in this weather!)

It's a cliche - but shouldn't we all live simply so that others may
simply live?

I guess that's one reason I'm looking forward to living in Africa. I
want to learn to live without too much "stuff" so that it doesn't get
in the way. Freedom!

Ndafara kukuziva

This was one of the first phrases I learned in Shona. It means, "I am happy to know you." It seemed a fitting title for a blog entry, since I do appreciate all our faithful readers (especially Pernell, as he wrote such kind words about us). And now you all know a phrase in Shona. I’ll share more… if you’re lucky.

We started packing up our stuff yesterday. Other than books, we don’t seem to own much. The assessment by the moving company was almost a joke. The process is supposed to take 30 minutes, but he was done in about two. I guess we don’t own too much, at least compared to North American standards.

Meet the parents

Strike a pose! Oh, so natural. No, these are not professional models—they're our parents.

Pucker up

There's something fishy about this picture...

Monday, August 08, 2005


Today I ran into Gerrard (a.k.a. Gerry) at the subway station. As soon
as he saw me, his whole face lit up in a big smile. It had been
several months since we'd seen each other, because I finished
university back in the spring.

In my two year masters program at U of T, I saw Gerry almost every
morning outside of my school building. He was (and is) the friendliest
panhandler I know. Sometimes I gave him a toonie, once I paid for his
antibiotics, but usually I just listened to him (it actually shocked
me that more of my fellow *social work* students did not talk to
Gerry, but this is not meant to be a judgmental blog!)

Gerry has stories that would break your heart. And yet every day he
would smile at me and say that there was a reason God was giving him
another day. And he kept going. He never seemed bitter about the fact
that he lived on the street while others complained about mortgages or
that he had survived so many challenges in life. He just has faith -
the kind of faith I really admire, because it sees hardship and sorrow
and yet still chooses joy.

I met another homeless man at the streetcar stop today. He was sharing
his life with me, and I said, "yeah, life is hard." He said, "well,
you just have to keep going." Don't you love when you find wisdom in
unexpected places?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Start the packing

This is our last weekend to enjoy our home before packing stuff up. A rep from the moving company is coming to our apartment Monday to survey our belongings and bring us packing boxes. Then we start the process of packing up our stuff so that we can move out at the end of August. We don't leave until mid-October, but we're moving in with Rochelle's parents for September and spending time at my parents early October.

Three months seems so far away, but there's a lot we still have to take care of. Craziness!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Boundless magazine

Before I head out to Zimbabwe, I'm creating a youth website for the Army with my friends Brandon and Jeremy. It's still a work-in-progress, but you can check out the shell of the home site at The content is just filler so that we can play around with various features.

The main site will be very basic, but the monthly mag will feature full flash, engaging graphics and other media. We'll also be posting bi-weekly podcasts on the main site.

The daily posts aren't teen friendly yet (too much effort), but we'll be targeting them directly once the launch date (August 24) looms closer.

The Army's already posted my job opening on their employment board, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, let them know. I think the closing date is August 15.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Happy anniversary to us

Three wonderful years of marriage... and more to come.

And so it begins

Hello! This is our simple (and free) site we've created to keep in touch with you while we're away in Zimbabwe. Yep, that's right, we're moving to Harare.

We've been officially accepted by The Salvation Army to serve as reinforcement personnel in the Zimbabwe Territory. Our term of service is for three years. We are very excited about this privilege and look forward to our ministry there.

While we've already received Army approval, we are still waiting for our residence and employment permits to be accepted in Zimbabwe. We would appreciate your prayer support for this and for our family and friends as we prepare to move away from them. We also solicite your prayers for the people of Zimbabwe and the Army's work there.

We're aiming to leave the end of October. I'll try to convince Rochelle to put up a few posts between now and then.