Thursday, December 25, 2008
THE LORD HAS COME!
joy. it's defined as
a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciate
i can share that this christmas, i am seeing clearly what true joy is about...truely valuing one another, family, laughter, simple pleasures, delighting in one another (and not just in stuff)... this is the joy Jesus was all about ...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
There's some things Im definitely been missing this Christmas season...
belting out the christmas carols in church... all the incredible nibbly-dippy-dip foods... all christmas parties (and especially new years at Jill & Duncs!)... holiday fun with the Maxwells... playing games of scattagories or big birtha with my family... being home..
I won't be missing the snowstorms (hahah snowmaggedon!) ...running what seems like 10 services on christmas eve at the square...the crazy shopping... the freezing cold weather... (well, ok maybe i will miss even those things, for a moment too!)
But my first Christmas season in Mexico is starting off to a wonderful start! We're enjoying some time of vacation - time away from the office and down time before we host some teams over and into the new year! Enjoying the visit from my friends Rebecca... savoring moments around a fire, enjoying a bevie at the beach, or simply being. It's wonderful. Yesterday I spent a couple hours visiting Marisol -a young woman who our staff built a house for over US Thanksgiving week. It was incredible getting to just chat, talk, share... and i managed to stumble my way through speaking spanish the whole time. Good thing for Spanish/English dictionaries! It was actually a bit exhausting, but all worth it. Also got to receive some Mexican cooking lessons from Ana and her family... preparing tamoles, rolling out tortillas. Let's just say Ana's 7year old niece was putting me to shame.
I had a moment at my church's special christmas program - reminding me of the universal-ness (is that a word?) of Christmas. I chuckled at the familiarity of a corny church drama. But what really impacted me was the power of "O Noche Santa" (o holy night) being sung by a incredible choir of voices, suddenly reminding me that it was Christmas.
Immanual. Christ with us.
Christ is with me... even as Im far away from what I'm used to. from my family. my friends. my traditions.
Christ is with you... wherever you are reading this.
we haven't exactly been enjoying sun and fun over here.
we don't have rain, but enjoying lots of rain. and what do you get when you cross a dusty, sandy city with lots of rain?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So to the Youth Mexico Missions Team '08... to Wellington Square.. to Calvary.. to all those who supported to this trip or others like it... thank you. This is what it's all about. You are all apart of changing lives...
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
observing a community of people getting it. living it. an inter-generational mish mash of people who were sharing life together, challenging one another, and loving one another. their ‘philosophy’ was, for lack of a better word, very ‘emerging’, however they weren’t disgruntled 20something, they weren’t trendy, most of them probably hadn’t heard of Rob Bell, and they probably didn’t really even know the term “emerging church”... but they were already wrestling and living out the same questions myself and many of my friends were asking. it was refreshing. inspiring. humbling.
becoming known with my friend Ana. I wrote earlier about my desire to really know and become known. this is starting to happen with ana. through language barriers we are beginning to really journey together. i am thankful for the times we had this weekend to laugh, cry, ask, search together. she is truely an answer to prayer.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
to the teams of wellington and calvary
it was a pleasure to share this, my new home with you.
it was an emotional week.
much laughing... 'remembering whens'... feeling safe... accepted... being challenged and challenging...worlds colliding...being inspired and humbled... knowing im in the right place... being encouraged and empowered... late night sleepovers & cigars with dear friend...trips to estero to debrief the day... moving beyond the surface... serving friends and family... grand reunions and tearful goodbyes...
but what a fabulous week it was!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
what a privilege.
i realize this week how important it is to be known. to really be known.
how often in a day do we pass someone as say 'how are you?' only to keep walking without even hearing their response.
it's often because we are too busy, or too distracted. i can confess to both those excuses. and add in there some language barriers and you've got a recipe for some pretty surface conversations. you sometimes can't get to really knowing someone, or really being known among a community unless you take the time to really hear how someone is doing, to ask the good questions, or to stumble through some broken spanish to say more than just 'que pasa!?'.
these last few weeks I've been feeling that bridge is being built more and more. feeling more and more that I am here. i can be me. and people are learning who that is. i am being known.
this week in particular it's been incredible as i visit the work sites everyday how refreshing it is to have people, friends, mentors pull me aside and say, so how are you really?! hearing people who i hold in high regard encourage me... and tell me that I am where I am supposed to be.
i am blessed and proud to be apart of these two incredible communities where for this week they get to collide into a hilarious, meaningful encounter! I suspect it will be hard to have my team leave... good thing it's only wednesday.
for now, im off... to the hardware store.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
click on this link
but here's a pretty funny follow up with Spanish Mike! (and yes, my spanish is getting a bit better. I hope to get as good as Spanish Mike someday....)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
So Sunday early-gross-am I made my way to travel from Buffalo to San Diego. To then meet up with Scott (and a team we were hosting) to drive down to Ensenada. I ended up getting a bonus 'catch up night' in San Diego due to the team we were meeting's flight got canceled to the next morning. It gave me a chance to survive the jet lag, lack of sleep, and also a chance to catch up with Scott on the ongoings of the camp since i left. And hey, i still get excited about staying in a hotel, so that was fun too.
When i made my way to the camp on Monday it immediately became familiar and it felt awesome to be back apart of this ministry and community. And i had to jump right back into things as we were hosting a team. Its still a much different change of pace than the summer, as the teams are smaller and things are quieter. I look forward to this 'off-season' life around here. really hoping it will give me a chance to enjoy new parts of my role, community, and Mexico.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
tomorrow i head back to EOC after a 'furlough' visit in Canada. its been almost 2 months... visiting, connecting preparing, paperwork, sponser letters, celebrating, savouring...
its been wonderful and i am so blessed.
its hard leaving these people who know you. who love you. who you feel safe around.
i have amazing friends & family who drive me places, throw parties for me, give me financial support, cook me meals, take care of me when my wisdom teeth get taken out, laugh with me, pray with me. love me.
its time to really start this next season of my life. the summer was a bit easier as i knew i was returning in a short while. but this time its really happening.
as life at EOC starts to pick up again, and we look to host our first team since the summer, the excitement builds too.
i know im ready to have purpose again and to offer what i can to this ministry.
and hey, the nice weather helps too!
i look forward to trying to keep all those who are interested and curious updated on my adventures.
it should be a good ride.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
purpose & community
I am so grateful I have so many wonderful experiences where i can find those things.
I was reassured that even tho I was traveling to another country, leaving my friends and family behind, that I would not be alone. As i lived and work at EOC, I am blessed by a diverse community of interns, pastors, Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, rich, poor, construction workers, accountants, young, old, conservative thinkers and liberal Christians. And even though it takes effort, it somehow works. And its wonderful.
I flew home early to make sure I could spend time with my family - my parents, siblings, their spouses, and my neices and nephews. It was crazy having 17 people in the house at one point, but cool to be reminded of the importance of family. Sometimes dealing with family dynamics can be tricky, but it was a life giving couple of days...
And then camp. Where do i start with this incredible place. I spent over 10 summers working and living at this Christian children's camp (8 of which i was the director) and had invested alot into that place. So much of my identity, my transformation, my purpose was stirred up in that community. I made my 'comeback' this past week after being away for 2 summers. It was strange and wonderful all at the same time. Catching up with old staff, reconnecting with youth campers who I watched grow up over the years, and being encouraged that I was apart of something big... it brought me so much satisfaction. I was reminded of how well we do community at camp. Living, eating, working, worshiping, serving one another... it's an incredible picture of how we are supposed to be. I also forgot how much joy and laughter is important to community. It was good to laugh until it hurt. Also great to talk and connect with people... working together to figure out who they really are... What an honor it was and is to be apart of that community...
So as I spend the next month here in Ontario, I am so looking forward to more moments of community. Whether it be celebrating my friends' wedding, or sharing a drink on a patio or taking some youth out for lunch...
I realize how friggin' blessed I am.
I don't know how people try and do it on their own. It meaning life. faith. everything.
I am created for community and am so glad I am apart of some of the most fantastic communities out there.
(photos to come soon... once i find my camera cord!)
it's fantastic to sit and be quiet.
i've spent the last day watching bad tv, vegging, and not thinking.
it took awhile to stop my brain from thinking, but after running some errands and making a few lists, it is so wonderful to stop and rest.
even for an extrovert like me, its so healthy and good.
Monday, August 11, 2008
sitting on a balcony.
watching bad tv. (i know... what a terrible things to enjoy!)
salad made with non-iceberg lettuce.
flushing toilet paper down the toilet.
no one asking you questions.
this little layover in california has turned out to be a nice one.
canada bound tomorrow!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
im not good at resting.
don't get me wrong, im really good at being lazy or slacking. ive mastered the art of vegging and even have enjoyed a few nights of lounging in my room here enjoying episode after episode of "the office" as i fall asleep at the end of a long day.
but rest. that's something im not good at.
sabbath. rest. being still.
its been a nice quiet weekend around here and its giving me a glimpse of the 6 weeks i have ahead. I know they will be filled with visiting, running around, getting things done, etc.... but really with little 'agenda' in most days.
i hope i can work on resting.
or as some of my friends have called it "pre-retirement".
here goes it!
looking forward to kicking back on the patio, sharing and reflecting on my own and with my dearest friends, playing with my nieces & nephews who don't really know auntie rhonda, returning to SLC, romping, playing, laughing, resting...
that and getting some wisdom teeth pulled.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Its crazy to think that the summer is half over, but been crazier to think that just in 12 short days I’ll be flying back to Ontario. It feels weird to not finish out the summer, but Im heading back to get to spend some time with my family (who hasn’t been all together in over at least a year!) and also to spend some time volunteering at my ol’ stompin’ grounds – Silver Lake Camp. It will be strange but wonderful to get to enjoy that special place again, and to support some friends as they lead and finish off with Youth Camp. It will be a bit of a whirlwind upon returning home, but I’ll have a good month to enjoy ‘pre-retirement’. My only goals in September will include visiting friends& family, sitting on many pub patios, getting some wisdom teeth pulled, deal with insurance and business of sorts, and raise support for my upcoming year in ministry. I know I will enjoy these 6 weeks back in Ontario, but Ensenada feels like the place I am supposed to be right now. So that’s encouraging I suppose, knowing Im in the right place right now… encouraging, but still strange…
As the chapters and seasons evolve, its so crazy to think about all the change that has happened and will happen in the months to come…
I was reminded this week why I am here. You see in most situations I am meeting “poverty” when it’s admist hope and help. I see families with great need – but I get to see them receive a new home, a fresh start. This past week I was reminded the work is never done, and there is such deep needs that we can’t always get too. I met a family my friend Marvin has been trying to help out. We gave them a ride home one day and learned of their stories. The 4 kids who were starving and quickly gobbled up the simple sandwiches we bought them from the variety store... the father who was a recovering drug addict.. their run of bad luck as they just saved up to buy a [crappy] car just to get rear-ended a week later…. Aside from giving them a ride home and a bag of a few groceries, there was little I could offer this family. In that moment I tried to offer what I could… but that’s nothing. They will likely be going to bed hungry again tonight. And still will have mountains of struggles to climb again next week.
This time, I didn’t get to see hope amidst their poverty.
I just saw the poverty. The need. The hunger.
Right in my face. With limitations on what I could offer them… EOC can’t just build houses right away for anyone who wants it – there is process and healthy steps to take. I can’t just give away l my money to every person I see with a need.
So again, I’m hit with that tension. How do you best help everyone? What do you do?
Maybe as they hugged me with deep gratitude for the simple act we did for them, that was what I was supposed to do.
Love them. In that moment. Listen to them (even if I didn’t understand it all). Look them in the eyes (and past the dirt and hunger and weariness) see people. Just like me.
But it was heavy on my heart.
And Im glad for that. Im glad for that ache.
But I sure am glad for those moments we do get to offer hope amidst the ache.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
don't drink the tap water
drink lots of water so you don't get dehydrated.
watering the streets to keep from the dust flying.
the watertruck honking up and down the roads.
water. a vital importance to our living.
on Thursdays at chapel I talk to the camp about living waters. i share how we need to soak up the living waters so that we can pour out and drip on those around us. that we want to be filled up with that living water of Jesus so that we can live in the overflow. and pour out unto others.
this weekend my dear friend Nona reminded me another significance of water. Nona has been my roomie for a bit here - someone i have loved laughing with, enjoying a cold bevie with, being inspired by, debriefing the days events with, and just living life together. Nona got baptized in the ocean by the camp. it was a privilege to be apart of that holy moment...watching my sister in Christ walk out into the crashing waves... seeing the waters wash over her... her old self gone and new self refreshed, renewed... her thirst quenched.
as things continue to get busy around here, i know i need to find time to be drenched in the living waters. i know i need to remember my own baptism and find moments of renewal and allow the crashing waves to refresh my heart. as i pour out everyday - coordinating, answering questions, mentoring, leading, listening - i don't want people to see my work, my strengths nor my weaknesses and shortcomings- but i want them to see the living waters of God pouring out of me...
may you be filled to overflowing today...
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I was taking one of the interns out for lunch downtown, and only in mexico do you find a jumpy-castle-thingy outside of the store... that's an upside-down cow!
As mexico becomes more my home, things shock me less. The craziness of the driving, or the amount of dust that flies every step you take or the idea of putting hot sauce on everything (including popcorn at the movie theatre!)...it doesn't really phase me anymore. Even the sight of randomly designated dumps and garbage piles, the shanty homes or barefoot children don't shock me anymore. In a way this is good - the overwhelming sense of "pity" is no longer my reaction. And I don't even really approach the families we are working with, or the friends I am making here as "poor people" anymore. They are people. They are part of my new community. They aren't a statistic or a label or a project. They are people. But I don't want to become so accustomed to the poverty that I forget that these people have needs. There is poverty here that I never want to get used to seeing. Last week I spent some time at the Migrant Camps - where the living conditions and poverty are even greater than most of the areas we regularly work in. I was reminded again of why I was here. I was reminded of how my heart ached, but also how it inspired me to continue to be apart of this ministry. It reminded me of Jesus's calling to be his hands, his feet, his disciple...
I may get used to seeing kids jump on an upside down cow, but I don't want to get so used to seeing poverty that I forget why I am here...
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Well, it's crazy to think just a week and a few days I had just arrived here. it feels much longer... in a good way. Returning back to the EOC has a 'returning home' kinda feel to it this time around. Alot less awkward, alot less questions, and i was quickly reminded of the warmth and energy of the EOC.
Scott, the director of EOC, asked me today 'so what do you think of the craziness around here?'. I immediately responded, "i thrive in it!" It reminds me of that same pulse and organized chaos of camp life... something is always happening, there's always someone who needs a question answered, there's always something that needs to be done, and about ten distractions before getting around to it. I love living in community tho... i think its how God intended us to live. maybe not in a dorm style - camp residence type living... but in the sense that we are to eat together, worship together, serve together, share everything you have together... so that no one is in need. I get a glimpse of that when Im here at EOC. And it energizes me. It's got its stresses too and I know I need to work on setting some bounderies and time to rest, but its definitly been going well and Im feeling more and more settled as the days go on. Im remembering all the ins and outs and how to answer the 87 questions i get a day... Im enjoying my staff of interns who are incredible servants and who really need little direction... and Im loving connecting and reconnecting with the phenominal team of staff here at EOC. It's a priveledge to serve alongside them.
As i get more settled, I hope to be able to post more regularly, not just the ongoings of the day but that you can journey with me in what im learning and experiencing down here. So stay tuned.
re: top photo: rockin' out at chapel to Los Pollos! bottom photo: my intern crew at the circus!
blessings to you all!
and oh! Happy Canada day!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I spent just a few days ago, packing up my life into a uhaul, spending special moments with my dear friends and youth, and then after a few hours of flying across the states into san diego... suddenly Im in another world...
It was a long, but smooth travel day. After spending the afternoon running errands for the camp in San Diego, we arrived at EOC in the evening on Friday. It was exciting to see all the changes at the site, and great to catch up with Scott and remind myself why I was excited to be apart of this ministry. Because admittedly, I had a few moments in those first few hours thinking "what am I doing here! take me back!", as i thought of friends, youth, and community I was leaving behind but here I sit in my sweet new place, and it already feels like home.
Saturday included staff meetings, a taco run, unpacking, pizza diagonal!, and a chillax movie night with the rest of the staff. Sunday I hope to enjoy some QT on the beach, and work on my chapel teachings... and then Monday, the chaos begins! But am looking forward to seeing the rest of the staff again too!
I have a deep sense of peace, calm, as well as anticipation and eagerness to see what this next chapter is really going to look like.... i know i can't just race again and read the end of the story, i gotta watch it unfold page and page...
Friday, June 13, 2008
I move out of my place Wednesday, and I fly out to Cali Friday. I'll spend the summer serving at EOC, resuming my duties as camp host, leading chapels, and mentoring the intern team. I'll come back to Ontario for a month or two at the end of August - that will give me time to raise support, figure out all those details of moving to another country for a year. It's all a bit blurry, but Im confident in the plan God has for me (jer29:11) and confident in the opportunities I will have to use my gifts and passions in this new community... and culture.
oh. and im really excited to actually really learn some spanish.
so keep posted to the blog. im sure you'll see more regular updates and photos in the weeks and months to come.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Im moving to mexico! It doesn't quite seem real yet. the reality of leaving my youth, my friends, my community, my comforts haven't quite sunk in yet. I still feel a lot of excitement and peace throughout it all - even the moments of uncertainty and fear of the unknowns. It's been an amazing couple months, sharing in the lives of my youth and watching in the impact one week in Mexico had on so many of these young people (and leaders!). As June comes closer and closer, the grieving and sadness start to pick up as well. This church community has been my family, my life, my everyday for so many years.... it will be hard to let it go.
Not to mention my friends and family and personal life (is there really such thing when you work at a church?!) I think its comforting to know that I will be back in september and october to just get to hang out with them. these last few months have been so busy wrapping things up at the church and closing that chapter of my life up. But my friends - they will continue on through the next chapters of life's journeys...
So June 15 is my last sunday. June 20 - August 20 (ish) I return to Mexico to resume my duties as camp host, intern leader, and whatever else Scott has up his sleeve! I will return to Southern Ontario to kick around, raise support, and figure out what it takes to live and move to another country. Ill return to EOC again in november for an indefinite period of time... 8 months...a year... more... who knows...
so how's that for an update?
be sure to keep reading as this new journey gets more exciting and blog-post-worthy!
it's been so long since i've updated, but some big changes happening and on the horizon, so let me catch you up to speed and share with you the letter I wrote to my church family here at Wellington Square church.
It is with mixed emotions that I share with you this news. I will be stepping down from my role at
I wrestled with the decision because I absolutely love my job. I love this community. I love my youth; they mean more to me than anyone will ever know. I love the encouragement and training I received here. I know I’ve grown a lot since that rookie 23 year old who joined the staff team some 7 years ago. And much of that thanks goes to the incredible people that I’ve gotten to work with, be mentored by, and thru the opportunities you have provided me. As well as from the incredible young people who have taught me so much about life, passions, and living for Jesus. This church never put me in a box and I have always felt
I will spend my summer in
I again must thank you for your support of me and my ministries over the past 7 years. I am forever grateful…and
Saturday, March 29, 2008
"Mama Rho" here...back and in the house!
For those who don't know me, I was on staff here at EOC this summer as the camp host and intern leader. When I'm not in Mexico, I work as a youth pastor in Burlington, Ontario, Canada and had the incredible privilege of having my two worlds join forces this week! I took down 18 youth and leaders from my church in Canada, partnering with another church from Southern Ontario, and we trekked through the snow storms to get to Ensenada this past Sunday!
What an incredible week! I won't say how it's the best team I've seen pass through here, because I know that's a little bias... but I will share what a blessing it was to be here! The camp is looking and feeling awesome! The staff is full of life and energy, the site has some new great colors and additions, and the program continues to offer some new exciting elements! For those groups returning, you have some new things to look forward too!
One night in small group time, I was talking with my kids (who are an incredible inspiration to me btw) about what we learned about ourselves this week... and what we learned about God this week. I had a startling revelation.
God is enough.
God is all I need.
It's a statement that terrifies me and one that is hard to really live out. I know I still cling to so many other things... worldly things... things I like to control... and even though I may try to encorperate God into my life as best as I can, it's often after I have everything in order
Whether it be watching families who don't have much of anything, still be content in all circumstances; or whether it be living in community and feeling alive and so purposeful... i was reminded God is enough.
this is how He wants us to live.
in community. interdependent. purposeful. serving. loving.
and not just in mexico.
not just on missions.
in our everyday realities.
So I want to redefine what is normal and everday for me when i return home.
I want God to be more than enough.
It's been a pleasure to be among my family here in Mexico again. I look forward to continuing to see God move in this place and in the teams that pass through here week after week!
blessings my friends,