Wednesday, December 15, 2010
We've hosted a few Christmas events and festivities this past week, but it's still wierd without the snow... or Christmas carols... I do miss it. Well, maybe not in the crazy intense snow storms and freezing cold weather. But I do miss the traditions and especially the advent season I grew up with. That at church all of December was spent preparing your heart for the celebration of Jesus... singing the carols... reflecting on the story of Christmas. I'll miss my mom's squares and treats she'd make and prepare - the house filled with way too much food - and how she'd decorate the house so beautifully! And even though we haven't always be able to spend Christmases together, I'll miss being with my family especially this year. I'll miss the christmas parties with all the "dippies and apps" and the spirit of community and fellowship often found in these moments. There will be alot I will be missing and probably a difficult Christmas, but I am so looking forward to having some time to really settle, rest, be...
With just a few more days of work before a week off for the holidays, Im looking forward to time to hang out in my NEW APARTMENT! That's right - my new digs are pretty much done! I moved in Saturday and Mardy and the guys have been doing a great job of finishing up the last few things. There is still a few projects to work on (like building stairs to my place - Im currently climbing up a ladder! haha), some furniture to gather, and then to make the place my home - photos, art, hitting up the dollar store for the essentials... but it shall be fantastic! Im really looking forward to having my own space. a home. a place to visitors. a place to call 'my own' amidst the chaos that camp life and community living sometimes brings. I am grateful for this blessing.
So although I was just wearing shorts the other day and although I will be eating tamales instead of turkey this Christmas... I am blessed. I have great people to create new memories with and celebrate new traditions with here in Ensenada.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As the winter season approaches, we get more requests for help. Yes, there is an actual winter here in Ensenada - It's no Ontario winter, but it does get colder and rainer, especially as our weather patterns seem to get even stranger these days, we've had wetter winters. When rain hits us, the drainage systems are terrible, many houses are equipped with inadequate roofs, and many field workers are left unemployed. Many days in the winter season people are cold. wet. hungry.
The other day a tired, weary, couple came to the gate of the camp. Before I had a good 'excuse'. When I wasn't able to speak spanish very well I didn't usually have to tackle the tough gate conversations. We strive to help people in a sustainable, empowering, "hand up" not "hand out" kinda way. We work behind local pastors - equipping them to be the front line. We typically don't keep extra food to hand out at the camp or try to avoid taking on direct requests from families who come with needs to the camp. We desire to work in partnership and community with our pastors. We desire to be about relationship with people, not just give them what they need and never see them again. And even with that aside, we don't have the resources to help everyone. We can't keep up with all the needs. there will never be enough food to hand out. there will never be enough clothes to offer. there will never be enough money to fix all the roofs and houses.
Sometimes when people come asking for money or food, I gently explain what we can or cannot offer and I carry on with my day. Sometimes I'll offer what I personally can or although we don't encourage handing out food - will search around for some leftovers to offer them something. But these people come and go. And I carry on.
But back to the tired, weary couple the other day. It was a rainy cold day. They looked like they may have walked a ways to get here. They began to timidly share their story. Desperate. Hopeless. Tired. It wasn't a crazy drastic story - one that sadly I hear too often. Their house's roof isn't good - has leaks and when it rains the rain was pouring down unto their bed. Their daughter was getting sick from the rain. The father could barely speak from a terrible cold. I pulled in a fellow staff member into the conversation and began to explain our limitations of what we could do and suggested some next steps to get connected with some help. He understood we maybe couldn't do anything but he explained he was just desperate. He needed to do something, anything he could to help his family. He began to weep.
My heart ached.
I wanted to gather my friends together, grab some materials from the shop, jump in a truck and just fix the roof.
I wanted to buy some blankets and prepare a pot of soup for them.
I wanted to tell them everything was going to be okay.
But I couldn't.
But we did pray for them. Hugged them. Found some food for them. Gave them some phone numbers. Took down their information.
Hopefully gave them some hope.
I guess that's what it's about right?
Maybe we can't fix everyone's roof, but we can offer something. Time. A smile. A hug. A cup of coffee. Dignity.
I definitely prefer the moments where we hand over the keys to a new house. and everything feels perfect. at least for that moment.
But the tough ones, the ones where the couple has to walk away empty handed, remind me of why Im here.
The ache motivates me.
It reminds me there's more to do.
And there's always something we can offer.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
She's all sorts of wonderful and she wrote a post on her blog (one of the few blogs i really follow) that I thought deserved some sharing. She's a fantastic writer.
Check it out http://furtherdowntheroad.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/wanting/
My time at home as been so refreshing. I must admit, after my mom died I wanted to cancel my trip to Ontario that I had planned. I didn’t want to preach, I didn’t want to get on a plane again, I didn’t want to feel more unsettled. But it was so great to be back home. Home... it’s such a changing word. I think I wrote about that a few times before. Although southern ontario will always be home, Mexico truly is my home for now. And I am anxious to get back into the swing of things with my peeps at the EOC.
As I look back on the last month of my traveling adventures here’s just a few of my favorite moments. I managed to bring my camera with me, without my battery charger... so I’ll have to just capture the moments in my memory this time.
- my pre-canada 5 day adventure in Virginia Beach! Beach front condo, fantastic people, and mi Nonita!
- fall colors. i forgot how gorgeous the leaves and tress are!
- deep rich conversations...catching up beyond the small talk...
- sharing a bit of my country with mi amiga Sandy
- the incredible ‘homecoming’ I always get at the Square.
- my dad getting to see me preach
- my Niagara Falls weekend adventure with Maddie & Sandy
- hot tub and wine with my sis-in-law
- going to the cemetery to visit my mom’s gravesite. not exactly fun, but good to do...
- hanging out with my various kiddies - from corn mazes to trick or treating!
- God’s provision in opening up new doors of financial support...amazing friends willing to go to bat for me...
- porch talks and debriefing with Maja... like the good ol’ days
- surprising God encounters through a good book, prayer times, conversations, or even in the many drives around ontario
Thanks to all those who have been so wonderful to me in these days. Taking me out for coffee, checking in, financial support, laughing with me until my belly hurts, praying for my family, crying with me or for me, missing me, loving me. I have felt so blessed by the many people I have who are on my team. I couldn’t have gotten through these last 2 months without you all.
So I think Im ready. Creo que estoy lista! Hope you are ready to join with me on my continued journeys in Mexico!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
At the time I write this I am still recovering from the whirlwind of the last 10 days. Ups & downs, tears & joys, precious time with my family, experiencing emotions I never knew I had...It’s been exhausting but also been humbling to see the love, support and prayers from so many people - from old school friends, to church communities, to EOC partners and teams. What an amazing example of community. Thank you so much! I am sure I’ll be continuing to rely on you all as I walk through this process of grieving.
My mom was always proud of my work and ministry. She never got to witness my work first hand but always knew what was happening at the EOC and supported me faithfully. In honor of my mom, you can make a donation to my ministry with EOC YUGO. Help make an eternal difference in our broken world. Thank you for those who already have made a donation. I am completely humbled by the generosity of people in my life. Paying for flights, driving over an hour just to give me a hug, making yourself available, driving me places, feeding us, donations, prayers, emails... Its been an incredible outpouring of support. And I need it all more than ever, so thank you.
For more information/photos/tributes - you can go to www.cooperfuneralhome.ca (online condolences)
I will be returning to reconnect with my Mexico family for a few weeks. And then back to Ontario for most of October some previously planned visits to churches and partners. I am blessed to have such great communities of people all over the world who will be loving me along this journey...
Monday, August 16, 2010
I feel like Im living a bit in contrasts these days...
alot of moments where i think to myself "well on one hand... but then again, on the other hand...."
Like how we wrapped up our our last of 9 weeks straight of teams, finishing up a long run of teams. Ending a season...
Then shortly after hosted the first ever local youth camp. Two houses built by local mexican youth.
The first steps in an amazing new chapter of the ministry. Starting a new season...
Another example, Im sad to see that our extended staff are leaving us, returning back to their homes. Our team of interns are wrapping up their time here and many have already left us. We had a team of 10 youth from Canada, US, and Mexico serving together - working hard behind the scenes, selflessly giving themselves to the ministry. What a gang they were! But aside from working together, we also lived together, played together, celebrated together, wrestled together. It's a beautiful thing really! It will be sad to see them all go. They bring so much joy to my days!
But this community thing can be exhausting! I'll be excited to have my own space... to not be accountable for 10 to 100 other people. Maybe just a handful will be nice for now. I'm ready to know that if there are dished in the sink, I can only blame myself... Im ready to be able to walk around the house in my pjs without someone walking in. I'm ready to answer a few less questions in the day...
But then how long will that peace and quiet turn to eery silence... or lonliness...
The contrast of embracing the quiet peace of the camp, but also missing the joy and activity of teams and visitors!
The contrast of knowing this is where I need and want to be right now, but that there are some things back 'home' in Ontario that are pulling upon my heart. Some difficult news from home regarding my mother's health is racing through my head, but for now, we wait... Wanting to enjoy this season of preparation and planning here in Mexico, but not sure where I should be and where...
The contrast of wrestling with personal finances... not really being able to get ahead and tackle those debts and get what I all need [want] .. but also still living in abundance and richness compared to the people I'm serving here in Mexico.
So many interesting contrasts.
But I suppose that's the beauty of life. ups and downs. pulls and pushes. changes. growing. stretching.
it's what keeps you awake, alive, fresh.
and to be grateful - content whatever the circumstances...
Friday, August 6, 2010
But on the other hand you can never grow tired of seeing the keys being passed around for a new home, or the embrace of a child, or hearing testimonies of team members, or watching a team of interns work and serve hard. It’s a real joy and honor to get to be apart of all the activities, ministry, and community of this place.
Next week we are excited to launch our first ever Mexican Youth Camp! Due to the generosity of others, we have two houses sponsored to be built by local youth! We are excited to open this new chapter!
We have already begun planning, dreaming, and thinking ahead to the next season. Ideas on how to serve the teams, staff, and community better and more effectively. And really the ministry doesn’t stop.... maybe the pace changes, or the work of visiting teams slows down... but the needs of the people
here in Ensenada continue and so does our work.
But I won't complain when we get some vacation time at the end of August either. Woohoo!
Sleep is near my friends, sleep is near!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
* 29 houses have been built so far in 2010!
* We’ve hosted 18 visiting teams from all over the States & Canada who came to serve, build, and love.
* Over easter, we survived a week of facilitating and hosting over 250 campers & staff, 9 houses, and 5 other ministry activities! It was a crazy week but we were so impressed by the hard work and flexibility of the teams and staff! What an fruitful week it was for God’s Kingdom!
* It continued to be a rainier spring season than normal around here! There were several wet and cold building days; and many communities and field worker impacted by the unusual heavy rains. We are excited to be enjoying some sunny, clear skies these weeks!
* We experienced some of the tremors of the nearby earthquakes in Mexicali in April. Thankfully we weren’t affected by the quake. We pray for our brothers & sisters in Mexicali who suffered significant damage in their communities.
* Our fearless spring intern team of Jon, Travis, Thomas, Anahi, & Sandy continued to impress us with there passion, willingness, and hard work! Go team! Thanks for your dedication! We are excited for our summer interns to arrive in June!
* our staff team enjoyed a weekend camping trip to a local waterpark “Las Canadas”! About 40 of us, staff and families enjoyed great food, campfires, volleyball, laughter, play, and even some zipline adventures! It was great for us to have time together in fellowship and celebrate what God is doing among us! (header photo and below are some of the fearless who conquered the canopy tour/ziplines!
*we have been enjoying the change of pace here in these weeks post-spring teams/ pre-summer teams! We are busy programming the weeks, interviewing families, renovating the camp, and preparing the camp and our hearts for the busy summer season ahead! Some of our staff will also have some time of vacation, deputation (support raising) and traveling. We are especially excited for David & Kimyco as David recently received his visa and they have been enjoying some time in Fresno with Kimyco’s family!
* one of our hopes for this year has been to open up this place for more local events - especially local youth groups! Sandy, a Mexican young adult & the newest addition to our staff team, has been working on building those connections with local churches and youth pastors. We’ve hosted a few events and look forward to running a youth camp in August where local youth have the opportunity to build houses and serve in their very own communities! Please pray for this!
Friday, March 5, 2010
Work wise we've been busy planning, preparing, and hosting small teams. I dig having small teams in - you get to know them, you get to journey with them, you get to be flexible and more 'organic'. And I suppose its less work too ;). We have a great team here at EOC. I am blessed. It's work sometimes, but really - what a beautiful team we are! Our latest interns are fabulous and it's definitely a different tone when you have all guy interns! Right now we are getting the camp ready for our spring run of teams! Including my very own home church - Wellington Square Youth team! That shall be all sorts of wonderful for my heart! Shortly followed by our biggest week of the year with over 230 people! Phew!
Trying to balance the various roles and jobs I have, the constant running list of things to do, enjoying the challenge of it all, but also just enjoying the quiet still moments. Ive been having some great conversations with Scott - my dear friend, leader, and partner in ministry. Talking about finding balance and ways to keep filled and protected.
One of the things that has been added to my plate but also has given me so much in return has been being apart of the Homes of Hope program. Visiting the families con mis amigos Juan & Ana is something I look forward to in my week! Its great to be reminded what we are all about. We being EOC... but also we being followers of Jesus. Taking time to care for people. Or just be with people. Be invited into their "homes", enjoy a fresh flour tortilla, and talk about their hopes and trials. Listen. Laugh.
Personally, continue to know this is where Im supposed to be. Even in the tough moments where my world feels so small. I am so grateful for the friendship of my dear sister Ana who continues to journey with me in all the ups and downs. Continues to ask the tough questions that I hate. Continues to push me to search deeper. Finding time and 'ganas'/desire to do this, to search has been hard sometimes. But God is full of grace.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
canada is home. it always will be. i am still a proud canadian and the last three weeks visiting family and friends in Ontario have been a reminder of the incredible people in my life. And although I am happy to return to a warmer climate, it was even good to be home amidst some snow, christmas season, favorite pubs, good restaurants, sane drivers, and a country where a tall, white girl doesn't stick out so much!
but even more than Canada, my 'people' in canada are what make it home. the history of friendships are so rich. there were so many visits that we were able to just pick up where we left off...there are some friendships that I am just so able to be known, really known... there are people who know how to ask just the right questions to get me thinking... It was so amazing to reminisce - to celebrate our past memories but also be secure in the future of our friendship no matter where life has taken us. Whether it was time with my family and getting to know my nieces and nephews a bit more, or time with the ol' highschool gang, or faithful camp friends, or Wellington Square peeps... I was surrounded by people who love and support me. I am truly blessed.
It was hard to manage these three weeks - wanting to visit with everyone, but knowing I couldn't. And even though I was determined to not run around too much, by the end of my time in Ontario I was tired of visiting and ready to head back. home. home to mexico.
the first time i used the word 'home' for mexico, i was a little surprised. but i suppose i shouldn't be. it is my home. it's where my everyday community is right now. its where my purpose and passion is right now. its where my calling is right now. and despite the cheesiness of it, it's where my heart is right now. i desperately missed my friends and faces of the EOC. It was refreshing to step away from my work, but I am ready to jump back in the game of my job and life. not to mention my own bed and not living out of a suitcase.
so it was so fullfilling for my heart to be home. in ontario.
but im so ready to go home. to mexico.
here's a few pics of my wanderings this christmas...