22 August 2006


this summer has been a mixture of moving, preparing for next year, visiting friends, trying to write a thesis, organizing, and vacation. but mostly it's been a lot of vacation. certainly vacation has included a lot of visiting and a lot of organizing but my real job this summer (that of finishing my thesis) has been rather neglected (unfortunately). and that means that i go to the Netherlands with a bit of work still left from my previous program. yet, as much as that is a nuisance, the organizing and relaxing and time with friends was worth the nuisance (i hope). it has been a good summer, even in the midst of the sadness of saying good-bye, and i am feeling ready and excited and energized for next year (which starts in a week or so!!)

and one of the highlights of the summer was last week - 4 full days of camping in Algonquin Park. i was with a few of my closest friends (Dave, Crystle and Judith) who had done a great job of organizing things - so we had amazing food and everything that we needed. we spent a lot of time relaxing - just talking or reading or walking - and i was surrounded by water (including a beach), trees, and rocks (and i just love the rocks in the Canadian Shield). except for the lack of mountains and the high number of mosquitoes, it was pretty close to perfect.

and i have pictures but I can't seem to post them today - so they will have to wait for another time...

21 August 2006

St Stephen's Day Tragedy

Today (August 20th) is/was St. Stephen's Day. To celebrate the occasion, fireworks are held in Budapest. Unfortunately, while the hundreds of thousands of people were there, winds of up to 100 km/hour came through the area. Trees were uprooted, tents over thrown, and a couple of boats collided. Although several news agencies currently carry the story, The Turkish Press currently has the most updated version of what happened.

Several friends of mine were there - and close to where people were seriously injured. I'm thankful that they're okay. But please pray for all those who were there and who are not okay and/or are worried about those that they love who were there.

11 August 2006

moving, sharing, and God's timing

on the evening i moved out, i had two good friends (thanks Walter and Deb!) help me move stuff out and pack up my stuff. since my parents didn't really need my food and most of the stuff wasn't originally mine anyways, a lot of it was given away. some my friends took and some went to the schools' food pantry, clothing bank and other odds and ends. As the school closed by 10 getting that stuff out was the first priority. around 11, we started figuring out how to get rid of the furniture. as i was walking out to the garbage area with a chair (we didn't know where else to put it and figured people could scavenge there if they wanted to), i bumped into my neighbour helping another Korean couple into the apartment next door. the couple were bringing in huge suitcases - and as i glanced into the apartment, i saw it was empty. so i asked if they wanted my furniture. and so we moved my two couches, a table, some chairs, and some lamps. and i told them about the dishes and microwave we'd put in the food pantry. and i was delighted by God's timing - only God could turn my moving at a late hour into an opportunity to show hospitality - something that i had received so often from so many people.

and later on, as i was doing a final cleaning of the kitchen, it occurred to me that this was a good reminder of the way God surprises us with his timing. and it was a good way to end my time in Grand Rapids. it was time to leave. but overall it had been good. sure, sometimes it was hard - i'd lived with 7 different people over the 5 years, i'd been hard up for money way too often, living in a foreign country is always a bit of a hassle, and good friends would move away every year. but each year i had kept a few friends and made more. and this time it was me who was moving away from friends. and as much i knew ahead of time that i would learn lots (that is, after all, what one does in school) and that i'd make new (and good) friends, the extent of it still surprised me. i wasn't expecting to realize that as much as i love academics and talking about school stuff, i love the ordinary conversations that have nothing to do with school - and i love being from my very non-academic, practical, and caring family. and i wasn't expecting how much i enjoyed spending time with staff and faculty. and i wasn't expecting the different people that i'd become friends with - and how the friendships just got better with time (it helps that when you all work for the CRC, you keep bumping into old friends) - even the ones that i didn't make until the last couple of years. and i wasn't expecting to be able to minister so much to others - from tutoring to mentoring to teaching to just helping out wherever i could (the best part is getting to watch how people grow in Christ - and getting to see them flourish).
i'm thankful that God surprised me - and made it better than i expected.

i expect that these next couple years will also be full of God's unexpected surprises. and i look forward to them.
in fact, i've already bumped into a couple of surprises. a number of people i've talked to have heard of where i'm going to live. and a couple from my church are on my flight from Toronto to Amsterdam. i can't help but feel that God's taking care of me.

08 August 2006

thoughts on New York

although three days is hardly enough to develop a well-balanced opinion of a place, in my processing our trip to New York a couple of things about New York struck me.

i loved the busy-ness of it. and that it's a city that's not built around cars. i love all the people on the streets, using the subway (although it'd have been easier if we'd had a slightly better subway map and the subway system was slightly more obvious about how and where things were going), and the fact that cars often had to wait for people. i could definitely get used to that part of life there (and am hoping that Amsterdam has a lot of that pedestrian busy-ness to it - and hopefully i'll learn the biking rules quickly.)

but the thing i didn't really know what to do with was all the focus on material things. it feels like you're supposed to spend lots of money there. and spend hours looking at and appreciating things (or maybe i just spent too much time in museums). but housing costs a crazy amount out there so salaries have to be big. and there's a lot of focus on buying the right things, of having and eating the best, and of making the most. and i know that this isn't the focus of many people's lives, but it stuck out to me - as someone who has lived amongst people with little and lived on very little for years (my car's 12 years old, my computer's almost 5 years old, and the most expensive thing i have is my collection of books), i didn't exactly know what to do with that focus. it, of course, doesn't help that i'm trying to limit the amount of stuff i'm taking with me to Europe to 100 lbs.

but i'm glad to have gone. and see things a bit differently again. even if i have no desire to go back there any time soon. i like my freedom too much - and although it's sometimes inconvenient i like living on very little. i don't ever want to become someone who needs so much (although it would definitely be fun to have more money to give away :))

02 August 2006

i have a great dad

on our way back from New York, we went to Concord, Mass. to visit Walden Pond (which, incidentally, is a lovely pond to swim in). on our way to our campsite in New York State, we got a flat tire. i theoretically know how to change the tires on Deb's car (and she has a full-size spare) so other than it being a nuisance (her tire jack is horrible), it was manageable. a Mass. state cop pulled up shortly after we stopped, asked if we needed help, and within 15 minutes someone (with much better equipment) came and helped us change the tire. the spare tire we put on there didn't look that great but we figured it would get us back to Grand Rapids where Deb made a tire appointment early Wednesday morning.

the next day, we got another flat. this was not so manageable. who, after all, has two spare tires?!? and we were hot and sticky and tired and ready to go home (the previous night had been hot and mosquito-filled so none of us got a great night sleep). the only bright side of the situation was that we were close to Hamilton, Ontario where i have friends and a few relatives. and my dad often drives his semi along that route. so quite a number of phone calls on Deb's cell phone later, we'd found one of my friends who would have been willing to drive down with a spare so we could get to the next town, and figured out that my dad was only an hour away coming in our direction. eventually a cop showed up (definitely not as quick as in Mass. but definitely faster than for my brother-in-law who'd spent a night on the 401/3 highway with car trouble). he let us know we were much closer to the next city than we thought. Deb remembered that she might have towing insurance on her car (one of the precautions she'd taken when we'd driven to Alaska - like the full-size spare), so she called her insurance company (we did have it!) and we called a tow-truck. when the tow-truck arrived, he looked at the three of us and said he'd have to call another truck cause no one told us that it was more than one person. it being 4:30 (almost closing time), my dad being only 15 minutes away in his truck, we told the tow truck driver to take Deb and the car, tell us exactly where they were going, and we'd come with my dad in his truck. so Deb and the tow truck guys left Kristin and I along the side of the road. my dad showed up fairly quickly (i've been hitching rides with my dad in his truck for years so this really wasn't that unusual), and we went off to find Deb and tire place.

by the time we showed up, it was almost closing time. the tow truck driver was demanding cash (Canadian - which Deb had little of), the tire place was trying to get her decide what to do immediately (and she wasn't sure exactly what to do since she had a tire appointment in Grand Rapids the next morning as well - and the tires weren't very old). when we showed up, my dad helped Deb out with the tire guys, and I had enough cash to pay the tow truck guys. my dad helped Deb make a good decision (he's got a lot more experience with tires and cars than she does), and it felt so nice to have somebody around who knew what he was talking about - and could take away some of the pressure the tire guys were putting on Deb. they couldn't tell what was wrong with our first flat tire - so they inflated it and put it back on the car. the second one might have been due to low air pressure. but maybe that damage happened when it was flat (and as a my dad graciously said, even he (who drives truck for a living) doesn't check the air pressure as often as he probably should)).

and by 5:30 we were off again. with an extra tire in the car (some of my stuff went to my dad's truck to go to my parents' so we'd have room). feeling somewhat better although still a little nervous about the tires. (Kristin and I both decided that if we had got a third flat before we got home we'd both have had a meltdown. (thankfully, we didn't. and Deb got her tires fixed up on Wednesday morning and made it safe back to Saskatoon this past weekend.))

by that time we were definitely ready to be home. and we were all thankful to have had my dad come rescue us - to give us a helping hand and have somebody around who knew what he was talking about and we could trust completely. having him around made us feel so much better. and as much as it was not an experience i'd wish on anyone else, it reminded me how glad i am for the practical, down-to-earth (and definitely helpful) family that i have.