Sunday, June 5, 2011

Missionaries I'm Honoured to Know

     This past Tuesday evening I was invited to give a quick presentation about Colombia at Huron Heights secondary school. It was part of a concert put on by a student choir (around 60) from 8 high school special education classes in the region. The children have a variety of handicaps, mild to severe, but they did a wonderful job singing along to many familiar songs. It was powerful and moving to see their enthusiasm, honesty and camaraderie as they shared some excellent music. It was pretty daunting to try to give a sense of the important work going on down in Popayan, Colombia in just 5 minutes. Felt I struggled a bit but Beth says it came across well and the financial response was very encouraging. I wanted to be a good representative for Jenny and Fredy who we love and respect so very much, having gotten to know them through our visits the last 2 summers. They have poured unbelievable time and energy into helping the people in El Sendero. We've finally come to the (difficult) decision that we will not be able to make a trip down there this year. Flights have become more expensive and Beth needs to have some laser surgery on her leg for poor blood circulation, which isn't covered by OHIP.
     We went to Tim Horton's after the presentation with some friends, were reflecting on the honour of serving those with significant handicaps and Henri Nouwen's name/example came up. Interestingly, I went home and began reading Tim Madigan's "I'm Proud of You" which is a story about Fred Rogers' (of 'Mr. Rogers' Neighbourhood' fame). In the first few pages it says that Henri Nouwen was one of Rogers' favourite authors! That was almost as cool as when I was sitting on our front porch earlier in the week reading Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine" while listening to the background sounds of my neighbour mowing his lawn, when I come across a section in the book about the sacredness of the act of lawn mowing! These were both great books BTW. I'm kind of surprising myself as I've read 4 books in the past 2 weeks (albeit they're a bit shorter) - this is why I don't miss having a TV.
     At the same time I can't believe I only listened to 3 albums this week! Two by Ric Hordinski - 'Quiver' & 'When I Consider How My Light is Spent' (both creative and worth another listen), and Sparks 'Exotic Creatures of the Deep'. I used to listen to these guys (2 brothers) in the '70s when they were writing some weird and wonderful rock music with super-witty lyrics. Well actually they still are doing that all these years later - I especially like 'I Can't Believe That You Would Fall For All the Crap in this Song' and "Photoshop (me out of your life)'.
     On Thursday we attended a celebration for the mission work of Clare and Halima Fuller. Clare is a member of the church we attended for 22 years (we left last year) and after his pastoral training he went (in 1989) to teach over in Nigeria. He eventually met and married Halima, a former student, who was raised in a small town in the northern part of the country (Tungan Magajiya or TM). They settled in TM, both teaching - actually Halima became the principal of the elementary school she helped establish - and raising 3 children. We've been able to visit with Clare and his family a number of times over the years as they've been back in Canada. Clare and I share a love of books and I fondly remember a trip down to the discount book warehouse in St. Catherine's we took together a few years ago. It was great to spend a bit of time with them [we visited mostly with the 2 boys - Thomas (16) and Josiah (14)] at this gathering which honoured the influential work they've done. The Fullers came back to Kitchener last year to settle here permanently as they want the children to have access to Canadian education. We've been supporting their work for some time now and this will continue as Halima is setting up an outreach to new Canadians. Beth and I have been wanting to have them over to our house since they've been back and seeing them this week has given us renewed interest in setting that up.
     Our youngest son Joel turned 20 this week but his crazy schedule at the restaurant where he's apprenticing to become a chef is making it challenging to get together for a birthday party. However Beth did take a cake over to the restaurant and everyone there enjoyed it and sang for him (including the patrons!). At least I did get to see him on that day, about 9:30, after he got home from work, to wish him a happy birthday.

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