Monthly Archives: September 2003

Tough decisions

I just came back from a meeting for soccer.  A big fund raising banquet/dance is planned for this Friday night.  It was originally planned to raise money to get the girls to nationals if they won their league.  They missed out on that but the fund raiser is going ahead anyway so that we can help other teams to go in the future if the chance arises.

I don’t mind helping out with the fund raiser – it beats being obligated to work a Bingo or finding someone else to do it for us.  I get to make a ton of coleslaw for this one.

But at the meeting I heard of a series of a new high performance training sessions.  Sara should be doing this since she plays at this level.  One of the days and times they will be training is Sunday morning from 10 till 12.  Now I do not mind if she has to miss the occaisional Sunday to attend a special tournament.  But to miss all Sundays to train for soccer just doesn’t sit well with me.  She knows she is the only girl on the team to whom it matters much.  I wrote an official e-mail of complaint but I don’t know if that will make any difference.  I hope it matters to other parents as well, but I doubt that it will. 

This is one of those really tough decisions that parents have to make for their kids and know that whatever we decide will have repurcussions for our kids that they will have to live with, not us.  Sometimes it is hard to know if this is one of those hills we should choose to die on.  Prayer would be greatly appreciated.

Update:

I came home tonight and checked my e-mail.  The soccer coordinator says – the times have not been finalized, that he understands my concerns and that he will take them into consideration.  Thanks for your prayers.  We may not have a good decision on times yet but at least we have some room to work.

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Children of Promise and Hope

World Vision has a project called Hope Child.  I think that this is the next best thing to really adopting a child from one of these countries so heavily affected by AIDS.  Aids is devastating in both the sense that, the children left behind have a bleak future being left in the care of aging grandparents and in the sense that the grandparents have also lost their old age security in a land where there is no public help when you get too old to do the hard physical labour that living in those countries requires. 

We have children adopted by both methods – a World Vision sponsored child and then the second half of my family.  I still remember the day we met the first daughter we were to adopt.  She had just awoken from a nap.  She sat on Leo’s knee still sleepy but mostly unaware of what was going on.  The next couple of days were filled with things we had to do.  There were the photos, the medical exam and then we went to Mama Yemo Hospital for the AIDs test.  We were staying with the pathologist who ran the AIDs program.  Physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, we were prepared to accept.  Adopting a child that was HIV+ would be another matter for immigration purposes.  And at 2 1/2 if she was + it would mean that she was infected – not just maternal antibodies.  Adopting a child we would have to see die was more than we thought we could handle.

Waiting

The child,

The little girl,

Was ours for the taking.

All we needed

Was a negative on the last

Little big” test.

 

We took her.

They did the puncture,

Drew a few drops of her blood

That was becoming more precious

Than our own

By the minute.

 

Waiting.

Do you know

The agony of that?

 

This little girl

Almost embedded in our hearts,

Almost embedded,

After a few short hours.

Holding her,

Not even knowing

If she liked us,

Her face still a blank slate

Eyes not allowing us to see

Too deeply.

We, not daring

To get too sharply entangled

By her innocence,

Her vulnerability,

Our love.

 

All hinges on the test.

Have you ever waited

Like that?

 

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Youth Power

Well it is strange – when there a group of teenagers around, by themselves or in a class that you are trying to lead, you can hardly get them to stop talking amoungst themselves long enough to pay attention to you.  Get them up in front of an audience and you can hardly drag an answer out of them.  It was quiz time for the returning CHICers today.  I guess the real answers will come out in the changes we see in their lives not just in what they verbalize(or not) in front of a crowd.

Greg, who is getting ready to travel out to the Congo to spend 8 months living and working with Dr. Kongawi, did a very good job of presenting why and what he was going for.  He is generally a very quiet guy.  He actually has learned how to ask where the toilet is in Lingala.  At least he can always go there and hang out if the more complex linguistic challenges get to him.  Could be a bit like hanging out with the roaches in the back though – toilets being what they are in the Congo. 

I think we did OK with the fundraising for him today too.  I think he will learn a bit about living on a lot of faith these next few months.  We had better hold down the flip side of that one – give and pray faithfully.  He will have a totally unique experience as he will be living with little contact with other North Americans, no phone service, no stores, no place to get away – immersion into Africa.  Dr Kongawi is the father of the two guys who have lived with us for the past nine years so we know he will be well looked after. 

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Aids and Us

I found this article from Faith Today through Jordon Cooper’s site and his quoting from Karen Neudorf at Beyond Magazine on the issue of AIDS.  Aids is one of the huge health issues facing the continent of Africa.  And it is only one of several equally huge health problems.  Tuberculosis, malaria, sleeping sickness, diarrhea, and malnutrition are some of them.  They have no moral stigma attached but we haven’t done much to eliminate them either.

The problems are far away and we have more pressing problems close to home.  Like how to fund raise for our kids activities, how to afford this years Christmas presents, maybe we need the latest electonic gadget.  Maybe it’s just that we need to maintain our homes and cars.  It’s not that we don’t have legitimate needs either.  It’s just that the problems are not right in front of our eyes attached to people we have learned to love.  So we often put frivolous wants of our own ahead of the needs of people who need help to simply live.

The article says “Last year World Vision Canada advertised widely for a day-long seminar designed to help churches develop an effective ministering presence in the AIDS crisis. World Vision would take the seminar directly to the congregations. No one signed up. ”  I am not sure how it was advertized, but I did not hear of it.  And I get material regularly from World Vision.  Maybe it was not offered to small remote places like Prince Albert or maybe it was just one of the many things that we missed in going through the mail. 

Ministering to AID’s sufferers in our community is being done by mambers of our congregation but not as an official work of the “church”.  I know that care and compassion comes through during the care given from stories overheard.  Does this make the service provided less of a ministering service?  I don’t think so.  In fact those being cared for may attribute the care more to God than if it were provided as an arm of ministry of an organized church.

However, reaching out and attempting to effectively touch some of the vast problems that exist in Africa is a task better taken on by a larger group than an individual.  It does require an enormous amount of money and technical assistance to treat AID’s sufferers in the numbers that exist in Africa.  And this problem can’t be addressed alone without addessing the other less glamorous illnesses or issues such as education.  The church of Jesus Christ could do a lot better than it has done in the past few years. 

I think the amount of conflict in Africa has frightened us away and has given us an excuse to do nothing.  We haven’t intervened in the conflicts and we are not doing well at providing assistance to the local people who have remained in their own countries battlling enormous odds as they have attempted to maintain some kind of health care system. And what are we willing to do for the generation of young people who have lost their chance to receive an education or alternatively have only been educated in the ways of war and hate.

I guess we have reason to be overwhelmed by the immensity of the problems in Africa.  We just don’t have the right to ignore our brothers and sisters and their children in need.

Our congregation is sending one of our young men to Africa to work with a doctor there who chose to stay and work with his own people throughout the conflict in his country.  I wonder if our congregation will catch the vision and raise the funds he needs in order to go?

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First Drive

She got her learners license today.  In fact – just.  We arrived up at the motor license issuers just a minute befor they locked the doors.  Grace had been playing soccer all day and so we couldn’t go earlier.  Graciously, the issuer booted up their computer again and Grace got her permit to drive – with either parents or the driver instructer.

On the way back, I pulled over in the parking lot of a small church close to our home.  “OK” I said, “Drive home.” 

“From here?” she asked.  She thought she would start out just on the street in front of our house which for several blocks has no intersections.

  “Grace,” I said.  “Driving is just like dancing or soccer.  You have to know where all the dancers or players are around you and be aware of everything they might do and that you have to do.  You will be a great driver” 

And she did fine.  She will be a great driver too – just like her mom!

 

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Prayer for my day

Esther de Waal in her book The Celtic Way of Prayer quotes this prayer which is from Carmina Gadelica, III, p. 178.  It is a prayer prayed as the prayer was leaving his house for whatever task lay ahead. 

 

This morning, I am leaving the house for a whole whack of things that have to be done – strating with driving my daughters to their high school soccer game, then groceries, then who knows what!  It’s an ancient prayer for the day but fits my busy today one.

 

God, bless to me this day,

            God, bless to me this night;

Bless, O Bless, Thou God of grace,

            Each day and hour of my life;

Bless, O bless, Thou God of grace,

            Each day and hour of my life.

 

God, bless the pathway on which I go,

God bless the earth that is beneath my sole;

            Bless, O God, and give to me Thy love,

O God of gods, bless my rest and my repose;

            Bless, O God, and give to me Thy love,

And bless, O God of gods, my repose.

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First day back at school

Today was my first day back at school – to two of the four schools the Prince Albert School Based Dental Program works in.  I saw about 45 kids all together – got them examined so the dental therapy team can now go ahead and start their work. 

The two groups of kids turned out to be fairly different this year.  In the one school is a class of what are called “transitional students”.  These are kids that are having a hard time making it in the regular school program.  I imagine there are a lot of reasons why.  One of the things that I have come to recognise over years of treating people’s teeth is that how people treat their teeth is a reflection of how they treat themselves in other ways.  If they like and appreciate themselves as people of value, then they tend to look after their bodies as well.  This transitional class had some of the worst teeth that I have seen for awhile. 

The second school is the one where we have invested most of our time and energy over the past few years.  The kids we see are sometimes back to see us for several years in a row.  Many of these kids had no dental work to be done other than regular preventive stuff.  They come in and are very comfortable with the dental team – and they feel good about themselves.  Maybe we are making a small dent in the community.  One can always hope.

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