Sunday, October 6, 2013

Accomplishments: My Puny Life

It's my birthday! Or at least it was (the days blur into one another when you are old), and I'm turning quite old. What have I accomplished for myself? Well, not much. I did graduate from university which might actually turn out to be the only acheivement of my life, but I sure as heck hope not, because the main reason I went to university was to write books. And I haven't written any. Or published a single thing for that matter. You might say, why haven't you? And I might say, you know what? Screw you! It's harder than you think. But I wouldn't because I'm nice, and because I don't actually know for myself that it's harder than you think. I just know this information from what other writers have told me again and again and again and again and again. Yes I've submitted a couple things to contests and haven't won any, and one or two stories to magazines but wasn't accepted, but I haven't really put my heart and soul into it. Why you ask? Because it's terrifying to put your heart and soul into something you know has a ten times higher chance of being rejected than accepted. When guys ask out girls they usually calculate their chances and make damn sure the chances are good. If the chances were ten time higher that she will say no than yes, no one would ever ask anyone out. And then no one would get married and the human race would quickly die out (naiive idea of procreation). But, as a seasoned writer (not really, that's some pretty light seasoning, like maybe a dash of curry, the mild kind), aware of the trials of publishing and the hundreds of rejections that you might receive before finally making it big, do I take these rejections to heart? Are you kidding? Of course I do. It's like someone telling you your baby is ugly. Not that I know, I don't have a baby.

That's the other thing, I have no babies. And for years I was positive I would have like seven babies by now. Granted, those years were the same years when 18 seemed mature (ha, as if!), and 25 seemed like middle age (ha, ha... sad...). But I recently discovered I wouldn't want my life to be any other way than it is right now. I realized with great relief that I would be perfectly happy if I didn't have kids for another decade. Let's take one decade at a time, people. Of course, by then my womb will be starting to shrivel up, but my dad's solution to that is: have a baby now, give it to Mom to take care of, and then you have years and years to have more babies (it's the first birth that can cause all the medical problems if you're passed 35. SCIENTIFIC FACT). Now, I don't know why my dad would be stupid enough to suggest this, unless he is secretly planning a divorce, because if I'm giving my mom a baby to raise, well, um, that would mean he would also have a baby to raise. I miss my parents, now that I'm moved out, I do. And I miss my dog Kezzie (she's super old, 17, older than most people think I am when they guess my age). But I am positively loving the independent life. My roommate is fantastic and I couldn't ask for a better place to live. My job is great too. I work for Telus Sourcing Solutions, but I'm under the Alberta Health Services contract, so it's like this: big Telus outsources to India but has its very own customer service company it can't afford to actually hire, so we get hired by other companies to do their customer service. What does this mean? Big Telus may have shoddy customer service but at least they own one of the best customer service companies in Canada, so that's got to count for something. The contract I work for is, like I said, Alberta Health Services. Apparently when Alberta outsources their customer service they go to BC... so we're like Alberta's India... But what's great is the kind of work I get to do: not selling phones or pushing services, but helping medical professionals with their benefits and pay cheques. As one coworker put it, "We help the people who save the world." Or, er, Alberta. But I've never worked for a company that makes their employees feel so respected and valued. Where I work, I matter. It's probably the best thing you can ask for from an employer. See how God has blessed me with the very things I was so concerned about after Auxano? A job and a place to live? Beyond what I asked for or imagined. He does that, God. I mean, not always - sometimes He has things for you to learn and sometimes you're just plain reaping your own consequences, but when He decides to bless you, He always does it extravagantly. Now you're asking, then why aren't I a millionaire? Don't be stupid. We all know by now that money means absolutely nothing. For goodness sake, two seconds ago the penny was a real thing and now it's just pretend.

But it doesn't matter how many books I've written (none) or how many babies I have (also none), I have accomplished a lot. Everything I've learned, everywhere that I've grown (I don't mean like how my chin hair is steadily getting thicker and turning into a beard that is the envy of all the boys, I mean like character growth), all the people I've positively affected, my family and friends, these are my accomplishments. And what greater accomplishment than my relationship with God, which has grown exponentially and will continue to grow exponentially because at some point you learn as a Christian that there is no end to God, and therefore no end to how much you can grow in your relationship with Him. And that is both frightening and wonderful. And so, I don't have to feel a single year was wasted in my - really, let's be serious - puny 26 years of life. Besides, God can return your wasted years. Thankfully, I don't feel He has to. What more could I ask for?

Now what about my writing you ask? Well, I am going to continue to struggle to write the book I know I need to write no matter how ridiculous it is, and I won't let anybody tell me that writing about unicorns is childish. Of course it's childish, you dumb goose, it's a book for children.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Break-Up Post

I recently got dumped. I know. You weren’t expecting that kind of honesty were you. The thing is, we all get dumped at some point or another, and there is no shame in it. Unless you do desperate things to try to win him back, like constantly show up uninvited where you know he'll be or pretend that you're pregnant like Kelly from "The Office" (which would be hard to explain when you're saving yourself for marriage). Then yes, there is shame. Lots of shame. But let me just tell you something you didn’t know: unrequited love sucks. Seriously, you’ve probably never heard that before. Ancient poets steered clear of that subject in the past and current songwriters find that it’s too sensitive a topic to discuss over the radio. So let me guide you from the land of ignorance into the land of enlightenment (which has the word "light" in it, so you know it’s good, whereas ignorance comes from the word "ignoramus." I know, I took Latin in university). It’s like this, see: here you are walking along the shores of love and happiness when one day the mean, break-up fairy steals away your hopes and dreams with words like, “It’s not you, it’s the person you’re trying so hard to be. I can't stand that person.” Or, “I’m not ready for a relationship. And when I am it sure as heck won’t be with you.” Or “I decided I don’t want to have kids... with you. I don’t want to have kids with you. Sorry, was that unclear?”

Now that I have tons and tons of relationship experience, let me tell you something else you didn't know: relationships are hard. You thought walking along the shores of love and happiness was all pure sailing (wow, what a terrible mixed metaphor, it's not even practical, who would try to sail on the shore? An idiot that's who, and we're all idiots in love). But no, there are barnacles along the way and pokey rocks and sand gets in your shoes and, if you sit down to take a rest, you get punished for your laziness and sand gets in your shorts too and we all know sand in your shorts makes you so angry and you're probably hungry because your only food source is fish and most of the fish along the shores of love are dead (something to do with they're all burnt out from bad relationships. But why are you eating the fish you might date? Are you a fish too, and a cannibal at that? Or are you interspecies dating and also eating the species you date? It doesn't matter, I'm a creative writer. That means I just get to say things, they don't have to make sense) and at any time a giant wave could come sweep you off your feet... I actually have no idea where I wanted to go with that one. Maybe the wave is death. Maybe it’s true love... Take it as you will, it all really comes down to one thing: life can be hard. And the only way to combat it is to be content with whatever comes your way. For instance, right now, I'm trying my darnedest to soak in how much freedom there is in being single. I only knew this hypothetically before, because I hadn't really been in a relationship. It took being in a relationship and then coming out of one to realize the truth. Not that being with someone can't be freeing too, if it's the right person at the right time in your life. People are constantly deploring their singleness, like to be single is the worst state of being on the planet. And it kind of makes sense. What else in life is greater than that desire to be loved by someone? And if you don't know God, then how would you know that you are already loved by Someone far greater than any man or woman on this earth could ever love you? I would rather be single for the rest of my life than stuck in a relationship I shouldn't be in, even if it's a good one. I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be with someone who didn't want me back.

I didn’t plan on ever going through a break-up. As strange as it sounds I was okay with the idea of waiting for my future husband until I was forty if I had to, and continuing to believe there was something terribly wrong with me (not my looks obviously, I mean my personality). I was okay being ignorant of the pain of a relationship gone wrong. It’s not like I was ignorant of unrequited love or loneliness (however if I could I would have saved myself from that too). People say that the bad things that happened to them are worth it because it made them who they are today. Did it? Or did you just become who you are despite your pretty lousy circumstances? They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We had to go through two world wars before doctors realized that what doesn’t kill you sometimes gives you Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That should be the new saying. One thing is for sure, bad things happen but God brings good out of every situation. God doesn’t need bad things to happen to fulfill His goodness. In fact, He’s so good that He doesn’t just bring good out of good situations, He brings good out of the worst of the worst. Just like the verse, “When you are weak, then He is strong,” doesn’t mean that your weakness makes God stronger. God is always strong, we’re just too stupid to recognize it when we're all pumped up on ourselves. As I've heard before, God is a gentleman, He stands at the door and knocks. Sometimes I wish He would ram the door in, but then for all I know I might just get offended that He wasn't gentlemanly. So He waits, and knocks, and often it's when we're at our lowest that we are willing to let Him in for tea. If he rammed the door in, He might have broken the teapot.

What else have I learned from this terrible, awful, horrible heart-break that I would never go through again even though it made me stronger? How loved I am by friends and family. The fact that anyone would cry for me just because they know what I went through, amazes me. Somehow we're always amazed that others would do things for us that we know we would do for others. What else have I learned? Forgiveness. Forgiving the person who hurt you most. And forgiving yourself for all the mistakes you made along the way. Forgiving them for not realizing sooner the things they realized in the end (because then you would have been saying, “Well why didn’t you realize that from the beginning?” which would take a lot more prophetic power than my coffee at work has). (If that didn't make sense to you, you didn't read my previous post so shame on you for reading this one). (If you did in fact read my previous post and it still doesn't make sense, then I completely understand and I'm sorry. Besides, this isn't a TV mini-series, you really don't miss much when you skip an episode). Forgiving the person for not giving you time to realize those things too. Forgiving them for making promises they had every intention of keeping. Forgiving them, and yourself, for believing things that weren't true. Forgiving them for changing. Forgiving yourself for making anyone's life harder at a Christian camp program for eight months where you were the leader and he was the student and it made everyone else feel super awkward and created unnecessary tension. Oh wait, no, that was just me. That doesn't apply to anyone else.

So what do you do when your heart is broken? You give your heart to God and know that He will heal it. You entrust it to God and know that He will never break it. And in the end anything that brings you closer to Him is worth it. It doesn’t mean it had to happen to get you there, that there was no other way for you to be closer to God (although it could mean that, I don't know); it doesn’t mean you would do it over again; it just means that the entire purpose of your life is to bring you closer to God. How you get there is called life. And life is sometimes hard. God knows - seriously, it’s called “The Incarnation” people. And that's my twenty-three cents on relationships.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Unprophetic Coffee

The Donut Shop. That is the name of the coffee we have at work. That or Arabica. “Arabica” brings to mind coffee from the exotic land of Arabia, such as Saudi. The Donut Shop brings to mind a frightening wannabe version of Tim Horton’s. When people see Arabica brewed they think, “Oh good! Coffee!” When they see The Donut Shop they think, “Oh look, coffee. Well I’m going to die some day.” The thing is, they are both terrible coffee (coffees?). And coffee tastes terrible to begin with. So it’s not like you’re expecting liquid chocolate. The problem is, whether it’s a Donut Shop day or an Arabica day doesn’t actually signify anything. You’d think if it was an Arabica day, it would be a good day, and if it was a Donut Shop day it would be a bad day. But they are just different levels of bad. And besides I have proof that it does not predict the kind of day you have.

I moved to a place in Gordon Head, right next to Mt. Doug Park. The bus stop is close and I made sure I was there early. EARLY. Do you know what that means to me? Well, in this case, only a couple of minutes, but that’s besides the point (I know for a fact that the expression is “beside the point” but I have been saying “besides the point” for so long that I just plumb refuse to change, for the sake of consistency alone) (I also like the expression “plumb.” I like expressions that I can also eat, I call them “edible expressions," like "don't have a cow" or “good gravy.” Just kidding! I'm a vegetarian). You might be surprised by this but I am not known for my earliness (see post “Tardiness”). I am not even known for my on-timeness. Well I waited and waited for the bus but it obviously wasn’t coming. I had already been late to work twice. The first time I was late was because I decided to ride my bike to the Royal Oak Exchange from my old place. Well, I’d done it before, so you’d think it wouldn’t be a problem. But this time I decided to take the highway. Which was also the long way. I’m leaving out the part where I never meant to bike all the way to the Royal Oak Exchange, or to even bike on the highway - I was trying to find where the closest bus stop was. Apparently I passed it unawares and just... kept going. If I didn’t die of heat-stroke (it was the hottest day of the summer so far) and pure exhaustion, I nearly died on the highway. I do not recommend it. Some people do it, but they are obviously depressed. Because when those semi’s go by your entire life flashes before your eyes... and you realize what a horrible movie your life would make. The storyline is just totally out of whack, you pretty much live a cycle of repeated mistakes and unassuming joys, and if you don’t get pancaked by a semi, you nearly die of boredom, flashing your life before your eyes AGAIN only this time at least it includes a close shave with a semi (exciting). So, just like I was telling you, that day I didn’t even have coffee, so it didn’t predict anything about how bad the day was.

The second time I was late was because... I can’t remember. Oh wait, now I remember. Because I was early for the bus. Yep. Once again, I was early (and once again that actually only means a couple of minutes) and the bus must have a cruel sense of humor and have come even EARLIER than a couple minutes. Probably three. That day I did have coffee and it was Arabica, which should have proved that it was a good day. It wasn’t. So coming back to my story about being early for the bus yesterday, I waited for that bus until it was almost too late. Finally I sprinted home, tried to wake up my new roommate (Krista) and pathetically plead for a ride to work. I couldn’t do it, I tried and when she didn’t wake up, I felt a great sense of relief and panic at the same time, which was interesting. I grabbed my helmet and hopped on my bike in my sandals and work clothes and pedalled as fast as my little out-of-biking-shape legs could take me. I didn’t think it was possible. I had fifteen minutes to get to the Royal Oak Exchange to catch the number 75. And somehow I made it. Granted I had to leave my bike at the exchange because there were already two bikes on the bike rack, but God must have known, because I happened to have my bike lock still on my bike from the move (I hadn’t bothered to lock it up at my new place). That’s totally God... right? Not stupidity? Well that day, despite being chaotic, turned out to be a miracle day, because I miraculously made it on time. And if I was late just one more time I would have had it recorded as an absence at work. And that day I had The Donut Shop coffee, and it was disgusting, per usual. What is the point of all this? Not much. What can you learn from it? Heck if I know. I still haven’t learnt how to be on time.

I promise the next post won't be quite so useless. Actually I can't really promise that.

Monday, June 3, 2013


For Steve Fielding
So, here I am, home alone in my parents house while they're on a cruise to Alaska and the envisioned "party time" turned out to be just a serious food shortage with no money (because no job) and a constant checking the door to make sure it's locked. Except for last night, when I forgot to lock it. My dog doesn't know what happened. You see, she was asleep on the couch when my parents left and as far as she can tell they simply disappeared and left me, the Incompetent One (in her eyes of course), behind. She peed outside my door in defiance. But Lola, my sister's little dog/hamster does that just for kicks. Matt was down from camp for the weekend so I wasn't lonely but he couldn't sleep over (because it looks bad and why put yourself in the way of temptation?), and there is something about being in a house on your own, waking up in the middle of the night and waiting to hear the comforting sound of intense snoring when all you get is silence. After a great weekend together with Matt I messed up our plans and we missed lunch with Matt's family in Duncan. We had Subway instead and I was ragging on the falseness of the "eat fresh" motto (I may have said "Eat fresh my butt" only in not as nice words) when I realized that the reason my sub sucked so much was actually because I forgot to get any condiments on it. We did get to hang out with Matt's family, who I really love, but not for long before I had to go down for a nap just so I could safely drive my sister's car back to Victoria. How much more pathetic can you get? I don't know. I would hate to see it. It might actually be right now. I'm in my pajamas and it's past dinner time and I haven't gone outside yet...

My life is in limbo right now, not just because my parents left me to go on a cruise, but because I am still waiting on a job prospect. It's been a month and a week since Auxano ended and I wish I could say I had accomplished a lot of other things, but the sad truth is I've mostly been sleeping. And watching Downton Abbey (it's so good!) and now that it's over mostly just sleeping. A little writing, trying to get some exercise and hang out with friends, reading my Bible and praying but mostly sleep, sleep, sleep and never really feeling any less tired. Despite the depressingness of that fact, I'm still dreading going back to work. The alternative to not sleeping is being awake. Oh gosh. Yes, I do hear myself. At least now when I feel like I'm going to pass out I have the wonderful satisfaction of going back to sleep. At work when I try that on my desk they think it's rude. I don't mind it though, being home alone, without a job, constantly feeling ridiculous for missing my boyfriend who is actually doing real work up at camp. I mean I'm old enough to live on my own now, right? WRONG! I am just as capable of burning the house down as ever. Those little pictures above the stove top are freaking confusing. Which one is on top and which one is on the bottom???? Anyway, we're both safe and sound, my dog and I, don't worry. I put her out to pee and everything. Of course, she's constantly afraid for her life but luckily she is so old now she has forgotten why already.

For Shayla Broda
So what is the point? Well, the point is, I am savoring this time. I am flat broke but God has been so good (because that's who He is: good) and provided everything just when I needed it, not that God is supposed to do that. There's many reasons why He wouldn't. Tim Parker, the amazing prayer warrior who taught us at Auxano, told me at the graduation night that God wanted me to know He saw my faithfulness up at Auxano and He wanted to reward me, but I needed to be patient and have faith, it was going to take a little while. Why did God do that? He didn't have to tell me that. And that's what makes me feel so incredibly loved. He didn't have to but He did. So I'm waiting, patiently, faithfully, trusting Him and sleeping lots. I knew I was taking a big chance going up to Auxano to volunteer, but I also knew God was bigger and I said to Him, "Well, if I go, I hope you're going to provide for me." And He hasn't let me down. Of course, my biggest, possibly naive, wish going to Auxano was that I would be able to get my chronic fatigue sorted out. That taking iron supplements or whatever I needed would finally fix my sleeping problems after going to the Sleep Clinic and finding out about my TLS (Twitchy Leg Syndrome, a name which I made up, read post Leg Tourette's, Or Why I'm So Freaking Tired). I was hoping that coming back from Auxano I would be ready to enter the "real" world again (because camp is totally fake. No one is real there. They are all actually just inflatable dummies that can be used as complimentary flotation devices in the lake. Just kidding!). But I am going to just have to trust God again. Go figure. It's almost like that is what life is about. Trust that He will carry me through like He did at my previous job, where every day was a struggle. This is not supposed to be a depressing blog post, but it is real. Life is freaking hard. That's what heaven is for.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


My Auxano family.

So Auxano is over. The only reason I know that statement is true is because we had a graduation ceremony and then everyone said goodbye and then I went home and I can't think of any other reason for all this than that Auxano must actually be over. Hard to say. The last two weeks of Auxano were great fun. We went on an amazing surf trip to Tofino. I had a lot of fun playing in a wet suit in the ocean and being trampled by waves but very, very little success with a surf board. Most of us succeeded at what we called "accidental surfing" only (when a wave shot us forward while we lay on our board without any effort on our part other than facing the right direction). Unfortunately I tired myself out playing in the waves for an hour before actually trying to surf so by the time I got out there on my sweet board, all stoked to finally know what it feels like to surf, I paddled around five times, got washed by the waves twenty times and was pretty much done with the entire sport of surfing for life. We all looked like a bunch of oompa loompas in our wet suits or beached seals when we laid down on the shore and let the waves wash over us and make molds of our bodies in the sand. The best part was when we were lying on the shore and a big wave hit us and, when it left, everyone was still there except for Steph... who had been washed up further on the beach. Eric and Brad were like two little kids that didn't want to go home. We went the next day but only half of us surfed, and once again there was Brad and Eric in the water and all of us trying to convince them to go home after hours at the beach. Instead of surfing the second day Shayla, Matt and I made friends with a squirrel and a Stellar Jay. We also found quicksand on someone's private property and had a great time sinking and struggling to get out. I mean, no we didn't. The squirrel was one of those cute little brown squirrels too, the ones getting taken over by the big grey ones. I say down with the big grey squirrels! We need to start equipping the little brown ones with defense mechanisms and warfare tactics. I say build a brown squirrel army and unleash them on the grey ones to kill them off. Now that I'm saying this it sounds a lot like a racist genocide... only for squirrels.

Anyway moving on, the last week of Auxano was a great end to the year. We had classes in the morning on the Bible (I know, weird topic) and in the afternoon we hung out with old people. The Spring Adult Adventure camp was up for the week and we got to help out and basically hang out with the "campers" (it was hard to think of them as campers when they could all be our grandparents). We played Scrabble, croquette, boccie ball, did crafts like permanent marker on coffee cups and painted Kleenex boxes. Katie and I ran the drinks station and made lattes and organized musical bingo from the 1920's. I think they thought that we thought that this was their actual era. There was one woman there who was 99 years old so it pretty much was. I wanted to ask her what the secret to life was but I couldn't bring myself to. What if she told me it was something I didn't want to do like you have to give up sugar? I couldn't handle the responsibility of knowing the secret to life but not being able to follow through with it. I'd rather live in ignorance. I keep getting distracted. I'm watching this creepy cult movie with Nicholas Cage called "The Wicker Man" and it keeps reminding me of Auxano, it's uncanny, like they took a camera and filmed our lives there. Just kidding! So what did I gain from these past eight months? A greater knowledge of the Bible, a closer reliance on God, really good friends, lessons in humility while still knowing when to stick up for myself, lessons in grace and forgiveness, greater discretion (I know, hard to believe), learning how to live in a community... and a boyfriend.

Pretending to be surferes.
Yes, you heard me. This year was really hard. Really good, but really hard. I think it could have been a lot easier. I'm trying to figure out why. I think maybe if I was to advise someone else I would say probably don't fall for someone at camp while you're still up there. I don't know but I would think that would end up complicating things a little bit. Wait did I say fall for someone at camp? I meant to say fall for a student... that's when things get awkward. I kept asking myself, should I fall for a student? And at first I was like mmm better not but then I thought you know this Auxano business is pretty boring. Let's spice it up a bit! Of course I didn't you moron! I tried so hard not to and like usual I just had to think hard enough and will my feelings away... oh wait, no, that doesn't work. If only life was so easy and you could choose who you like and when you like them. If I was going to give anyone advice from this I would say maybe don't tell the student you like them? Just a word to the wise. Not that I did that of course. Don't be ridiculous. But just let's say the student was a friend first long before he was a student and let's just I'm not perfect and I'm actually a Big Mouth Betty (see blog post Big Mouth Betty (Debby Downer's BFF)) and did tell the student I liked him, then felt like the stupidest idiot in the world and had to tell the leader and admit that I was actually a real human girl with emotions and then live with the consequences for the rest of the year. Now you understand my problem. But no longer! Auxano is over and God is still amazing, fancy that. So, if you too do something stupid like that don't worry, I am a living testimony that after eight months of awkward, you CAN survive. And the weird thing is people will still love you (not all of them, but you win some, you lose some). You will never be the same, of course, and people will point and laugh at you and call you a cougar and people like Shayla will say "ew" every time you're together and your leader will tell you it's lucky you weren't sent home, but hey! Isn't that what life is about? Blabbering to a student about your feelings for them and living out the next six months living with them and knowing everyone knows? Isn't that...? No? Huh. I was so sure.

Good news! He liked me back.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Social Justice: Modern-Day Slavery

I feel vastly overwhelmed by the idea of writing this blog post. I don't know why. It might have something to do with the fact that the stuff I want to talk about is vastly overwhelming. Yep. That's it. This week we had Randy Hein and Tara Teng teach us a class on "Social Justice." They taught us the difference between compassion, which is like giving food to a hungry person, and justice, which is like finding out why that person is hungry and trying to fix it. We are called to both, but most Christians just stick with the compassion part. Randy talked about the new-fangled idea that worship and justice should go together. And by new-fangled I mean it's aaaaallll through the Bible and yet we seem to ignore it. Justice is everywhere in the Old Testament and everywhere in the New Testament. Again and again God says, "Take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans and the foreigners," as in the most vulnerable in society and "fight for justice." But He doesn't say it like "this would be a nice thing to do, if you have some extra time." He commands it. It's as much a part of His law as "do not murder."

Tara Teng is this amazing girl who is all about ending human trafficking (some key words we discovered in describing what she does are "ending" and "anti." It's the little words that matter) and happens to also be Miss World Canada. I can imagine as a young child when people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up they would be quite confused to hear "I'm going to be an abolitionist beauty queen!" She travels around using her beauty pageant platform to speak against human trafficking, which most people don't know, isn't just a problem in far off countries but is a problem in Canada as well. What is human trafficking? It's defined as a "multibillion dollar criminal industry that involves the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or delivery of people for the purpose of slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labor." If you were to ask most people they would say that there is no such thing as modern-day slavery. We abolished it remember? Wrong! More children, women and men are held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade. It's the fastest growing industry, second only to the drug trade, and earns over $32 billion dollars. Humans are the second most trafficked "product" on the black market. In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world, but many others estimate that it is more like 27 million (see The Polaris Project), two-thirds of which are women and children and an estimated 79% are used in sexual exploitation. And what about Canada? We think we're pretty great, don't we. But Canada is a known source, transit, and destination point for human trafficking. Here are some sad statistics for Canada:
  • According to the RCMP, 800 to 1200 people are trafficked in and through Canada every year.
  • 2200 men, women and children are trafficked into America from Canada every year. 
  • In Canada a girl can be sold for $15,000 and earn her owner over $40,000 a year for the purposes of sex.

Now, this is going to be hard to believe, but it was only in 2004 that Parliament finally passed a law that even recognized human trafficking as a crime. Yay Canada. Always keeping up with the times. And it wasn’t until 2008 that someone was finally prosecuted after earning over $350,000 by sexually exploiting a 15 year-old girl daily for two years. How much time did he get? Three years. Minus 404 days for time already served. Canada is known for its suckiness at fighting human trafficking. You should not distance yourself from it, saying ah well, the world is fallen. Sure go ahead and say that, but not at the same time that you buy that shirt from Wal-Mart that was made by a human trafficking victim in China or that chocolate from Nestle or you know, 90% of the cocoa out there that is harvested by a human trafficking victim from the Ivory Coast. Did you know that a lot of pornography is made using human trafficking victims? Did you know that the average kid starts looking at porn between 6-8 years old? They don't know they're contributing to girls being held against their will and raped over and over again. But neither do most of the adults who continue to look at porn. And what about prostitution? Prostitution has a lot of controversy because people assume the girls have chosen that work. If by chosen you mean an imaginary debt is being held over their head and they have been threatened, beaten and raped into submission, then yeah, totally. Chosen.

YOU AND ME are contributing to human trafficking by the choices we make every single day. YOU AND ME are the bad guys if we aren't doing anything to help. I don't know about you, but being so incredibly privileged and blessed with so much, I want to fight for justice. I want to get to heaven and hear God say, "Yeah, you did alright." What can you do? Educate yourself, educate people, buy fair-trade, start buying more from places that don't use forced labor, stop buying less from places that do (and if you don't know, start asking) don't contribute to the sex industry, write letters to our government (go here), just to name a few. Here is a cool website that rates industries by whether they are contributing to human trafficking or making efforts to end it: Free2Work. You can download it as an app for your phone as well. And just so you know, I have to start doing these things too, little by little, bit by bit. Even Tara Teng can do more. We all can. But make sure you do something.

I think this is the heaviest blog post I've ever written. You're welcome.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Break of Spring

The Friday before last we cleaned the camp and got ready for the crazy children who were coming for the weekend. They were Intermediate age, so grade 5-7, and slightly terrifying. I only ever cabin lead teen camps but I love children, so it's not like this should be new to me, it's just that there were so many of them, and they were everywhere. The funny thing is boys and girls at this age sound and act exactly the same - insane. They stayed up until four in the morning and then told us their crazy sugar and Cheesie induced dreams which sounded like nightmares but apparently when you are high on sugar horrible things can happen in your dreams and you will always find them funny, example your dog gets eaten by a whale. Ha ha! My dog died! I picked up an entire bag of candy wrappers and Jones soda bottles from my girls' rooms when they left. It suddenly made so much sense why they had been bouncing off the walls, literally. Despite my fear of them (and you could tell I was nervous because I was trying way too hard to be funny) they were adorable. My favorite part about that weekend was the fact that Steph and Brad were the head cooks. I don't really know how this decision came about. I think maybe Andy drew names from a hat. I really cannot think of any other reason. There were two girls in my "cabin" (we all stayed in the lodges) who weren't Christians and were terribly afraid of offending anyone for their pagan ways. They knocked on my door near the beginning of the weekend with concerned faces and said, "We don't have Bibles." I assured them it was okay. But they weren't done. "It's not that we don't believe in God, we do, we're just not Christians and don't want to offend anyone. And we don't know how to pray, are they going to ask us to pray? I just know you say 'Amen' at the end," and, "What time do we go to bed? The schedule said eleven but I thought that because it was a Christian camp we would have to go to bed at nine." I wish. So cute though.

What an exhausting weekend right? Time for a break! WRONG! YOU MUST WORK UNTIL YOU DIE! That is actually the Auxano slogan. Andy spoke at the Spring Break camp and ended up comparing camp to a prison, which the kids found hilarious. I, on the other hand, know it to be true and wept inside. The weekend came to an end and the kids left and we then had a few hours to clean the entire camp before the Youth Work Week campers came up that night. We then spent the next three days working our butts off doing projects around camp along with the campers. The Auxano students were pretty upset that the RA's got a day off and they didn't. I almost didn't take my day off on Tuesday to show my solidarity with the students, until I got some sense knocked back into me (again, literally, I'm turning over a new leaf and trying to be a very literal person) and I realized being so exhausted I hurt myself wasn't doing anyone any good. We were picking up all the branches Paul was trimming off the trees and taking them to the giant bonfire we had built to burn them. I had been fighting negative thoughts all day, one second completely miserable and hating myself and then quickly reminding myself how blessed I am in a giant bipolar cycle that would seriously make anyone question their sanity. Not me, though, obviously. Then, because I was so tired, I made the poor decision to walk underneath the lift Paul was using to cut branches. I saw the branch hanging on the lift and I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't walk under the lift in case it falls off." Then I thought, "Nah." Well it wouldn't have gone anywhere, except that Paul who has been secretly trying to murder me for decades pushed it off just as I walked under it. Hmmm. He says he didn't see me. Do I believe him? No. He's just lucky I don't sue camp. It would be really awkward though, to sue camp and then not leave because I love it too much.

We had to get up at 6:30 am on Thursday morning to head to Victoria and serve more time in an out-of-prison field trip. Jim took us to Woodwynn Farms which is a farm for homeless people, as in homeless people go to live there and farm, not that they farm homeless people, which would actually be the opposite of the reason for their existence, and we worked our butts off again turning soil and making vegetable rows. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown on the ride going up there because I was so tired. During the morning meeting we sat in on with the staff and volunteers I tried really hard and failed to act like I was happy to be there. The guy next to me kept talking about positive energy and smiling at me. Maybe he could see the negative energy poring out of my eyes. Then he did a thankfulness dance and made us all do it. They kept going around the circle saying things like, "What are you most thankful for this morning?" and "Let's describe our word for the day: Celebration." I wanted to die. Then they asked us, "In two words describe how you're feeling." One would say, "Happy and content," another would say, "Peaceful and curious." I wanted to say, "SHUT UP, EVERYONE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, JUST... STOP TALKING." Buuuuttttt I didn't. Instead I just kept praying over and over that God would take my mood and turn it completely around. Eventually he did, but not before I nearly cried in the meeting like five times. It's not very often that happy people make me feel worse. I'm usually the one making people feel worse. I mean happy! Making people feel happy... Fortunately I wore my overalls with a plaid shirt and gum boots to Woodwynn Farms so I at least looked adorable, angry but adorable, like a little angry farm elf. I also found out pigs are disgusting creatures that actually probably should be eaten, just to put them out of their misery. I'm a vegetarian and animal activist. They are huge and ugly and could easily kill you just by sitting on you. The pigs there were 600 pounds. I was expecting to see Babe. But the other pigs ate him.

I wrote an email to the Mayor of Saanich afterwards that ended with, "I think Woodwynn Farms is doing something that could drastically change the face of Victoria for the better, even you don't care about helping people. My guess is you do. You're the freaking mayor for a reason." Only in the original I didn't say freaking. You know, cause he might not appreciate how wonderful that word is as a substitute for the f word. The next day we toured Level Ground Trading where they make their amazing coffee. The owner Stacie taught us so much I could never begin to explain it all. Plus I'm sick of hearing my own voice. Check out their website! Level Ground Coffee. They are so amazing and stand for everything that I believe in that just after one tour my new dream is to eventually work there, and I don't even like coffee. It is like a mean joke drink - it smells wonderful and then you taste it and it sucks.

Monday, March 4, 2013


I got a new name. Pearl. I like it because it reminds of an old lady and I took up knitting not that long ago and then knitted for three hours and put a kink in my neck that is still healing. Also, the students like to pretend I am old. They're all just waiting for me to fall over dead. And I don't blame them, a couple days ago I popped a rib in my back along with my sore neck and had to go to a chiropractor appointment in Lake Cowichan, so it's probably going to happen any day now, the dropping dead thing. I've had to sit out on a lot of work but I'm not going to sit around crying about it (that would be stupid, I got out of work). I also like my new name because I love the comic "Pearls Before Swine" which I can relate to, because I find myself frequently throwing my pearls of wisdom before swine (everyone else). Just kidding! The real reason they gave me the name Pearl is because I'm like a clam. You know, clammy hands and stuff. I mean because they want me to be like a clam, like a clam is my spirit animal. Maybe I'm not explaining this well. They want me to be able to turn the irritants in my life - grains of sand - into pearls. At one point it definitely sounded like they were saying there were a lot of irritating things about me but they eventually clarified that these things in my life were irritating me like chronic fatigue and depression and digestive problems. This was an area they wanted to see grow in me, something they already saw in my life and wanted more of. I found it really encouraging, especially to hear how they already saw that happening. I was definitely expecting to be ripped a new one (because they're all really just savage beasts up here) but instead it was all encouragement and simply confirmed my old lady persona. Right after they prayed over me Steph suddenly went to her room to get something and came out with a pearl necklace to give to me. She didn't know before hand what my name would be, she just remembered the pearl necklace and decided it should be mine. It meant so much to me I could cry just writing it.

THIS JUST IN: two of the girls were shrieking in the bathroom after waxing their legs. They decided they were sick of shaving and would finally try this other torture tactic called "waxing." My favorite was when I heard one of them say after yelling in pain, "Who decided this would be a good idea?!?!?!" On another really important note, some of the boys started playing Pokemon and the girls were getting all in a huff. It became a big problem, but not before I decided I would join in and play Pokemon too. Here was my thought process: instead of harassing them for playing so much, I would make them play with me and teach me their Pokemon ways, and only play a little at a time. Am I a genius or what? Turns out I just got slightly addicted and now want to play Pokemon all the time. The point is I don't. At first I decided I would read the Bible and then reward myself with some Pokemon until I realized how backwards that was, Pokemon being the reward for reading the Word of God. So I stopped and just play every once in a while. Gotta catch 'em all!

The week before last we learnt about First Nations Reconcilation. Mark Buchanan and Shane Woodlief, the pastors of the church we go to in Duncan, taught us. New Life Church has been building a relationship with the First Nation's community in Duncan for years and there is now a respect and trust growing that is beautiful to see. A bunch of us in Auxano go to Kidzone and play with First Nation's kids on the reserve. I feel so privileged to get to be a part of something that a few people at the church have spent years patiently pursuing in faith and prayer. We learned more of, or were reminded about, all the atrocities the church did to the First Nation's people and how spiritual damage requires spiritual healing. It makes perfect sense that the church should be the ones healing the damage they did, and yet here we have these incredibly broken people damaged by Christians in the past and now seemingly ignored by Christians in the present. Mark taught us about how the First Nation's people are our Samaria. Before Jesus leaves He says to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. To the Jews the Samaritans were their close neighbors, but totally looked down upon and ignored. When Jesus came along He focused a lot on witnessing to and healing the damage done to the Samaritans and tells His disciples to do the same.

Last weekend we had a "Ditch the Girls/Ditch the Guys" time. The girls stayed at Gussie's house in Sidney and the guys stayed at Matt's house in Shawnigan Lake. The guys did something really spiritual and watched "The Passion of the Christ." The girls spent almost the whole day talking about, but not really accomplishing, making a funny video of the random things we did. We went downtown in Victoria and had some fun in Value Village trying on crazy outfits, had some Bubble Tea in Chinatown then explored the top of Mt. Doug, headed to Gussie's beautiful house in Sidney for dinner then went to see Jen's sister Sarah perform a show at the Spiral Cafe in Esquimalt. Needless to say, a lot of driving. Gussie's house was beautiful. We felt like we were at a retreat, a big new house with lots of windows surrounded by the forest. I could have stayed there for a long time. It was a lot of fun, even if we were kind of exhausted and had to wake up the next morning to get to church at 8:30 where we were putting on the church service at Parkdale. The musically talented ones did the worship (AKA not me), a few of us talked about what we'd been learning and Brad gave a sermon on our First Nation's class. Then we ate lunch and hurried back to Duncan for Kidzone! We like to fit a lot of things into our days. YOLO, right? (You Only Live Once. Brad likes to say this about twenty times a day and no matter how much we fight it, it's caught on.)

The girls on Mt. Doug. From left: Katie, Steph, Gussie, Shayla, me and Jen

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Adventures in Missions, Compost and Snow-Caves

This is an awesome videoWe've had a few adventures lately and I'd like to share them. They might make you feel like you have no life, so if you tend to feel that way better not read this. I'd hate to make anyone feel the way I usually feel just looking at Facebook for five seconds.

Mission's Fest

We went to Mission's Fest three weekends ago. Most of us in Auxano are so deprived that we were more excited to go on the ferry than we were to go to an amazing Christian conference. We did have a pretty exceptional ferry ride. Brad and Eric played their guitars on the ferry deck and we sang songs and pretended we were in the Auxano band. Wait, you didn't do that guys? Oh. Awkward. Anyway, they're lying. They totally did that too. We sang and played under the overhang where the smokers and drinkers were sitting. They seemed to be enjoying it a lot, especially one guy named Kelly who was just eating it up. We were playing mostly secular songs or else Christians artists that were not overtly Christian but through conversation it got out that we were in a Christian discipleship school. Darn! And here I was trying to keep it a secret. Kelly kept inserting "Give me beer" after the line, "What do I gotta do to make you happy?" which is from the chorus of a song the boys made up about the girls. The next line is, "When everything I do just makes you snappy." The song is called PMS... As you can imagine the song did not go over very well with the girls. A couple of times Kelly almost teared up when we were singing about love and grace and Kelly's drunk cousin kept saying we were making Kelly want to go back to church even before we sang anything overtly Christian. You never know how God is going to work.

We went to a lot of seminars at Mission's Fest but the ones I was really interested in had to do with human trafficking and combating the sex trade. Gussie and I have been researching it and find we both feel a passion to do something about it. We're planning an informational night at the church we go to in Duncan to show the documentary "Nefarious" and write letters to the government. It was fun to help out a bit at the Camp Imadene booth in the exhibits room and wander around talking to people with different Christian organizations. I loved two of the speakers at the general sessions where a few hundred people had church together like it will be in Heaven: believers from every tribe, tongue and nation, and even more unusual, every denomination. One was Luis Palau who was British and hilarious and another was Ajith Fernando who was Indian and so passionate. I also loved taking naps on one of the couches up where the seminars rooms were. I even had ear plugs. At one point Brad and a few others came to where I was and were eating their lunches. Bard decided to put his cheesies on me while I was sleeping so I would wake up with them falling everywhere. Thankfully Jen took them off after he left. The last day there we were waiting for Vern, our van, and a bunch of Capenray students were playing this game called Ninja where you have to try to hit each other's hands in one move. We had started playing Ninja earlier in the year and Brad, who had never actually played before but only watched us play, decided to jump in to their game and start playing with this huge group of people watching. Probably one of the funniest things ever. Eventually four of us (not me, I suck too much at it to want to humiliate myself in front of that many people) joined in and Matt was stoked out of his mind when he won the round.

A Rocha

We were staying at the Johnston's (Eric's house) for Mission's Fest who were so nice as to host us and feed us and send us on our merry way to our next adventure: A Rocha (pronounced ah rosha), a Christian environmental stewardship centre that is all about taking care of the earth and educating others on how to do it. As an avid environmentalist and total hippy I absolutely loved it there. Going in I was really hoping it was a commune that I could secretly just join and stay there forever and everyone in Auxano would be like, "Where's Faith?" and someone would say, "She's staying behind," and they'd say, "Why?" and someone would say, "Shhhh, she's with her people now." The farm is on this old estate called Brooksdale in the boonies in Surrey, so close to the US border that my cell phone kept trying to give me roaming charges. I kept yelling at it, "Eh! I'm in Canada, you idiot!" but it didn't seem to make a difference. The estate has this great big Tudor style house and a couple other buildings and the old farm house and it looks like the classic little country manor from the 1800's. It was a present this guy bought his wife as a summer home for riding horses. Pretty nice guy I guess. I felt like I was in Pride and Prejudice and Darcy was going to come around any minute and say something that he meant one way but I took the wrong way but eventually marry him. One night before bed all the girls talked in English accents in one of our rooms and couldn't stop (it's like an addiction) and Shayla tried to tell us a story about a "magic rainbow unicorn mountain." We visited the llama, the sheeps and the chickens, but I was sad to hear they used to have pigs. I was really hoping to steal some piglets. It's probably for the best because the boys (and Steph) would just eat them. To them pigs = bacon. Apparently when llamas are brought up with sheep they think they're one of them and being the biggest of their fellow sheep (because it's actually a llama...) they guard their brothers and sisters. Stupid llamas. When we paid him a visit Steph and Shayla sang a song to him but he must have yawned more than ten times so obviously we were really boring. I tried to befriend the sheep by saying, "Baa ram ewe! Sheep be true, sheep be true!" (I literally said this many times; anyone who hadn't seen Babe didn't understand) but they weren't having it. I assumed it was a universal code of acceptance into the sheep community. Apparently not.

Our days were full of helping around the farm, learning about environmental sustainability and our relationship with creation, praying and praising the Creator and eating amazing home-grown and home-cooked food, almost all of which was vegetarian because they ate what they had, lots of veggies, bean dishes and delicious soups. I was in heaven. One day we turned compost for hours and picked carrots and ate them with the dirt still on them and Jim told a joke about a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac who stayed up late wondering if there was a Dog and when Shayla finally got it she laughed for the longest time anyone has ever laughed at a joke. Another day we raked leaves for hours and shoveled mole hills (I get it now, the whole "don't make a mountain out of a mole hill," because mole hills are small but freaking annoying and the next day there were already a bunch of new ones. Stupid moles) and another day we replanted baby trees into bigger pots and Matt gave them really annoying voices as they were being torn from their roots and transplanted to a different land. Because of A Rocha we have new zeal for composting and the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and have painfully tried to take on the challenge of eating meat for just one meal a day. Not me, obviously, but others.

Mt. Washington

We came back to the Auxano house just for the weekend and then headed up to Mt. Washington to this beautiful chalet owned by the Tenant family in a winter wonderland. The week up in that chalet was one of my very favorites. We were there from Monday to Thursday, hanging out together, reading I Spy books, knitting, playing Settlers, reading our Bibles, building a sweet snow-cave and every night we would have a naming ceremony (we've just been learning about the First Nations people so it seems even more fitting), names that we wanted each other to grow into. We named Eric "David, the lamb" (you have to whisper the lamb part because he doesn't like it) to grow in meekness and Jeremiah "Moses" to grow as a leader and Brad "Bear" like bearing fruit, not like the teddy kind. We named Jim "John," the disciple of Jesus, to grow in grace and Gussie "Rapunzel" ...the Disney princess, to come out of her tower, and Katie "Lucy," from the Narnia Series, to grow close with God. I've been named since but you'll have to wait for that one. It didn't matter that I couldn't go snowboarding. Only half of us did and only for a day. It was enough just to hang out. In fact, I was so happy sitting in the warm chalet looking at the snow NOT getting the crap beaten out of me down a mountain that I'm not sure I would have wanted to. The day after we arrived we went snowshoeing into the forest into the kind of place where snow-murders happen and you don't find the body until spring. Uh, sorry, that was, weird. Anyway we learned how to build a proper snow-cave that you could survive in if you were lost in the snow and had a snow fight. We didn't get to finish our snow-caves so the boys decided that they wanted to build another one back at the chalet. They worked on it for hours. In fact, I've never seen them more driven. They built benches in it that seated almost all eleven of us and a slide that came in the other side. Everyone loved I Spy so much that the next weekend when I went home to Victoria I brought back up with me all my old I Spy books from when I was a kid. Brad is now so enthralled by the Treasure Hunt edition that he has declared it to be the greatest book ever written. I didn't want to inform him that I doubted whether a list of things to find on each page, even if it did rhyme, constituted the greatest book ever "written," but I couldn't do it. I had to agree.

This is an awesome video we watched at A Rocha:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What We're Learning at Auxano Skhool

This blog post is going to hark back to the first three weeks in January and all that we've been learning up here at Auxano in our classes. It's pretty awesome, so if you hate awesome, stop reading.

The first week back we did a study of the book of Isaiah with Pastor Rob Filgate. Isaiah is one of the Old Testament prophets and the there are ten prophetic books in the Bible. Isaiah is full of prophecies about Israel and, my favorite, prophecies about Jesus. It was amazing to read through the entire thing in a few days and look at what God so clearly said was going to happen to Israel if they didn't come back to Him. Isaiah describes in detail how they were going to be defeated by the Babylonians, Egyptians and Assyrians. It's amazing to see how clear God is, how specific, long before the events had happened. It's not amazing that He knows the details, it's amazing that He let us in on them. God tells them exactly what is going to happen, why it is going to happen and even what they can do to make it so it doesn't happen (all they have to do, at any time to keep it from happening is repent and follow God) and then for three years He gets Isaiah to prance around without clothes proclaiming these things just to make sure they heard it. Apparently they weren't taking Isaiah seriously so God decided they would take him more seriously if he were, you know, naked. Then when the massacre and captivity actually happens they're like, "Whaaaa....????" as if they didn't know. The prophecies about Jesus are my absolute favorite. Again, God is so specific in His descriptions. I love reading in the New Testament in Luke about how Jesus explained all the Old Testament prophecies about Himself, most of which were from Isaiah. They had gotten the privilege of finally witnessing all the things that centuries earlier had been prophesied about. I can almost see the *click* that would have happened in their little minds. Because it happened in mine the first time I made the same connections.

The second week was our class with the wonderful Andy Renton, a book study on Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Or as we like to call him, The Diets. We don't actually call him that. This book was written while Hitler was persecuting and executing the Jews. Dietrich was part of a sweet underground church and anti-Hitler movement. The book is full of information on how to live as a Christian and the importance of living together in community with other Christians. Granted, it's translated from German into English and written eighty years ago, but it's the kind of book you have to read each sentence five times over before you get it, or read it five times over and just pretend to get it, nod and smile and say "Amen!" And if they ask you a question, answer, "Jesus." It works every time. I love the joke about a Sunday School teacher who asked her class, ‘What’s the animal with a long, bushy tail that eats acorns and lives in trees?’ All the kids look confused and one of them finally answers, ‘Teacher, I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel.’ We read Life Together on our own before and then the classes were basically made up of reading it together again out loud, stopping every so often to talk about it and clarify what the heck he is saying. It's definitely one of those books you could read many times throughout your lifetime and get something from it every time. Or a few thousand things. Give or take. Our favorite part was about the all-critical singing in unison of which Dietrich says, "There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated." Diets wasn't a big fan of harmony. What he was a big fan of was getting up early to read the Bible, sharing the Word of God with fellow believers, being quick to listen and slow to speak, worshipping God while we work, eat and sleep, being thankful and responsible with the little things God gives you if you want Him to trust you with the big things, intercessory prayer, which means not just praying for yourself but praying for your fellow believers, ESPECIALLY the ones you have a hard time with. He said if you are gossiping or harboring a grudge against a fellow believer it means you are not praying for them.

The third week we had our class on the Holy Spirit with the lovely Joyce Hilchie. It was a book study as well, on the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan. I really loved what Francis had to say, though I found he took a long time to get to it. He said how the Holy Spirit is often overlooked with Christians today. We talk about Jesus and God a lot, but what was it that Jesus said He was going to give to us after He left? The Holy Spirit. In fact He said it was better for us that He left so that we could get the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who will not just live with us like Jesus did, but actually dwell inside of us, helping us, comforting us, guiding us, revealing the things of God to us and speaking to God on our behalf. Instead we often ignore the Holy Spirit, or start taking advantage of Him and doing unbiblical things, getting as out of control as the church of Corinth that Paul writes to. Then not only the non-Christians are freaked out by even the mention of the Holy Spirit, but the Christians are too. For good reason. Because those holy-rolling, tongue-babbling Christians are freaking scary. If you are of the impression that the Holy Spirit is supposed to be this crazy, out-of-control maniac, please read 1 and 2 Corinthians. And if you are of the opinion that the Holy Spirit never does amazing, supernatural things today, please read Acts. Or even better, if you think that God is just some distant God and doesn't really work through His Holy Spirit here on earth please read Genesis through Revelation. A major point Francis Chan makes is that the church should never be operating by it's own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit. But so often they do. Why? Because they aren't coming from a place of desperation. They have everything they need: money, power, resources. Who needs the Holy Spirit? And, because as the saying goes, God is a gentleman, He won't force His Spirit on them. Just like the invitation to choose Jesus, the Holy Spirit is an invitation to believers. If you haven't chosen Him, you don't know what you're missing. Or maybe you do and you just despise love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, because you hate fruit and you've decided that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is probably just the same kind of fruit as an orange.

COMING SOON: a blog post about our amazing adventures at Missions Fest, A Rocha and Mt. Washington.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Back to Reform School: Auxano Round 2

Jim told us to kill each other.
So I came back to Auxano after Christmas break and it was like, really? ANOTHER semester with these amazing people, learning about my favorite subject (God) in this beautiful valley and going on adventures? We were talking to the Kaleo students who go to a similar program at Camp Qwanoes and they were telling us about a big paper they had to stay up late writing and all the exams they had to cram for. It was hard not to feel anything but pity as we don't have any papers or exams. I spent days and days of my break staying up late and sleeping in. I am not ashamed of those days. I mean, yeah, I'm a little ashamed, but not a lot. I helped my parents at home, but not as much as I meant to or should have. I hung out with friends but not enough to really contribute to them in a significant way. I ate a lot of cookies and drank a log of eggnog of the soy variety but not a lot... oh wait. Yeah. A lot. Like an excessive, disgusting amount. I saw The Hobbit and loved how even with the things they added from Tolkien's edits everything was still excessively drawn out, just so they could extend the novel into three feature length films and steal your money with the extra frames per second thingy and the fairly unnecessary three-dimensional aspect. Otherwise I loved it.

This week started with, well, first my day off on Monday, and then an adventure at Botanical Beach on Tuesday. It was my first time to Port Renfrew. I didn't understand; I had heard of Port Renfrew so many times. I imagined it was a city. I can't even be sure it qualifies as a village. Maybe a hovel. All I know is I thought we were going to die on that sketchy road getting there in the Auxano van. Logging trucks seemed to speed toward us (I say seemed because when you get behind one they don't seem quite as fast as you thought) and some parts of the road are single lane which gets really awkward when you have to play chicken with a logging truck. Twenty minutes into the trip Jim remembered he needed gas: Vern was running on empty (we named the van Vern). We had to turn back and head to Lake Cowichan as Port Renfrew doesn't have a gas station around for miles. I think that might be why it stays in "hovel" status instead of becoming a legitimate town. But it was all worth it for the beach. I love the ocean. It seems silly but just being away from it for a few months I already missed it. We found a sea urchin shell for Shayla who was sick and couldn't come with us and brought her home a collection of pretty rocks. I especially loved the tidal pools with their miniature Little-Mermaid-esque worlds. I tried to get Steph and Matt to put their fingers inside the sea anemones that suction your finger with their little suckers (it's the best feeling) but they were total wusses. I was disappointed in Steph until I saw her freak out at a teensy orange starfish the size of your finger and realized her fears had gotten the better of her sanity. That left Matt. What a wuss.

Jeremiah and The Whale Spout.
We hiked across a beautiful rocky landscape. You could see where the sea and wind had eroded the softer rock and the different colored layers that some genius could probably tell geological time from. None of us were geniuses so we just knew the layers were old. There were long stretches of shale with a zig-zag of quartz. I now know where I am going to get my future roof shingles and floor tiles. Trekking across those rocks felt a lot like Frodo and Sam Gamgee on their journey to Mordor. And I'm not even saying that just because I watched The Hobbit. I managed to not get my runners wet during all the times it would have been reasonable to get them wet. For example, at one point we were watching the waves break against the rocks and one came too far so to try and save myself I pulled Matt into a puddle... At another place the waves broke against an alcove and shot up like water from a whale spout and soaked Jeremiah. Another time Brad, Eric and I climbed a ridge on the shoreline and Brad slipped down it like a slip and slide and fell up to his knees in water. No, all those times where I should have gotten wet, I didn't. I managed to get wet at the very end of our trip when all the extravagant displays of the ocean were over. When you are concentrating hard on skipping rocks sometimes you forget that after the waves go out on the shore they come back in again. Finally, after our Botanical experience in Port Renfrew we drove to the Honeymoon Bay Resort and went in the hot tub, which was partially outside and surrounded by snow. To get to it you had to walk through Aslan's Garden and pass the Toadal Fitness room where, if you wanted, you could work out before going in the hot tub. But you didn't see Frodo and Sam working out after their long journey to Mordor. No, they did exactly what any Hobbit would do, they went hot tubbing in Rivendell.
On our way to Mordor. Jim was sick of us already so he wanted to throw us in a mountain of fire.