Monday, March 24, 2008
There's always cause to celebrate but this weekend my son Ben and I were able to join my mother to celebrate her 89th birthday! Wow! And she's still going strong! We had a good time together with a few of Mom's friends. They spoke of how Mom always has such a positive attitude and I suppose that has been passed on to her children, for which I am thankful. I'm sure it's contributed to Mom's longevity. And then, too, she is a very determined lady - always persevering to accomplish what she sets out to do. Over the course of her life she has learned any number of skills. I remember many years ago, as a single Mom, she decided she should know something about cars and so she took a motor mechanics course! And I remember one year when her birthday request was a radial arm saw! She built furniture to put in my room after years of sewing clothes for her children to wear. Even now, my ever 'with-it' Mom gets on-line on the computer to chat with me day by day, wherever I am in the world. I'm glad I was able to be with her for this birthday. Next year, we'll do it up way bigger. 90 is a big number.
On this same weekend, we celebrated an even greater event than a birthday - the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead! I was blessed to participate in Easter services at my home church, Yorkminster Park. You can check out their website if you want to at www.yorkminsterpark.com. On Thursday evening I went to our traditional (well, not so traditional for most Baptist churches, but for this one) Tenebrae service. Tenebrae is latin for 'shadows' and the service involves the extinguishing of candles to symbolize the darkness into which Jesus entered to pay the price for our sins. Sunday morning's services were outstanding, with drama, excellent preaching, and soul-stirring music. May God be glorified in our liturgical worship as well as in the worship of our lives, lived in service for our Redeemer.
It was interesting and fun, too, to meet a new friend on Thursday evening. After the Tenebrae service, I went for coffee with my friend Janet and her friend who just happens to be from Romania! It was great to have the opportunity to practise just a little of my Romanian.It wasn't the first time, either, as the week before I was invited to supper at the home of a couple of whom the wife, Luminita, is Romanian! Her mother was also visiting and glad to have someone who understood her and could speak with her. For me it was a blessing!
You might guess that I haven't been doing anything. Haven't been taking a lot of pictures anyway. But thought I would share with you some more pictures of the lovely creatures I enjoyed watching on my retreat. Then I'll post another story to tell what I've been up to. As you can see from above there was a lot, a lot (as my friend Dana would say) of snow. I was happy to see the nice man with the tractor come and make it possible for me to take the car out. But I also enjoyed sitting by the window, watching the woodland creatures who came to visit and to hang out. The deer, of course, were the most lovely - so gentle and timid yet also fun to watch their antics. I never moved fast enough to get a good photo of them leaping down the hill, white tails in the air alerted of danger. But they were not to shy to come several times a day to see if I had put more food in the feeders.
The bird feeder was a busy place and I was also interested to see if I could figure out the different kinds of birds. Some I knew already, of course, but others I learned from looking them up in the bird book. My uncle was a bird-watcher so I should have some kind of ability in this area, wouldn't you think? I'm beginning to understand why he enjoyed it so much. The little one with the rosy colour on its white breast and black markings on its wings is called a 'Common Redpoll' but I don't think there's anything common about it at all!!
I never knew before what a Grosbeak was. I think this one - with the red head and chest - is called the pine grosbeak. This one, I think, is the male of the species.
Then, of course, you have your frequently seen chickadee, with it's chicka - dee-dee trill.
I know this is a woodpecker, but it was hard to figure out from the book exactly which kind. Is it a ladderback, or a pilated, or a yellow-bellied sapsucker? If anybody knows, I would love to hear from you.
Those of you from Canada are no doubt familiar with the raucous blue jay and people from Toronto are especially familiar as our baseball team is named after them. They are a beautiful bird whose thieving, aggressive personality doesn't match its pretty colours.
I also had a visit from a very cute little red squirrel, as well as a 3 mischievous black squirrels who I named Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The red squirrel reminded me of my Nova Scotia background as that's the kind I knew in childhood. I was surprised when I saw big gray squirrels in Fredericton, and later, in Toronto - big black squirrels. In Moldova the squirrels are red but have very funny, almost rabbit-like ears. I haven't been able to get a good picture of one yet. I'll keep trying, once I return.
It was always kind of a sad thing to see the deer go back into the woods. They seemed reluctant to leave, too - and would often stop and look back up at the house as if to say goodbye.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Better than being in the city when it snows is being in the country. I decided that I didn't really want to spend all my Canadian time in an urban setting so I have escaped to the wild for a week. Here I can pursue time alone with the Lord, and in clos er touch with His creation - the forest and its animals - unhindered, except when I choose, by phones and demands of urban life. I arrived here Thursday evening and on Friday it started to snow. It has been snowing all day today and I would have to guess there is at least a foot of snow that has fallen. It is quite beautiful.
My car... er, I mean, Inga's car... is safely stowed in the garage and sometime before the middle of the week I am hoping that some kind neighbour will come and plow out the driveway. I am housesitting for missionary friends who have gone away for the week and they are happy to have someone keep the woodstove going, the plants watered and the deer fed. That's right, I said something about feeding the deer. On a daily basis one can look out the picture window and see the deer make their way up to the boxes where John regularly puts out corn for them. There is also a bird feeder and it is fascinating to see the different kinds and sizes of birds that make their way out of the woods. Nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, bluejays, pigeons, doves, redpolls(new one I learned today - very pretty) all flit to and fro to enjoy the seeds provided for them.Today I was thinking about what Jesus said about the little birds. Remember? He said "Consider the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26) As I sat and watched the birds I started to do some considering - and I want to do a lot more this week. I was reminded to consider the birds and the love of the Father. I was reminded of how Jesus was so eager for people to understand and be aware of the loving care of the Father. I want others to see the Father's tender care for them, too.
Occasionally Louie the squirrel comes along but nobody pays him much mind. I've been warned, though, that if the snowdrifts are high enough he has been known to attempt flying leaps to the birdfeeder. I'll have to watch out for that.
It's all well and good to be at one with God's creatures but they are all safely outside. There is a cat, whom the lady of the house prefers not to allow in the house to avoid cat hair everywhere. The cat has a box in the garage, so is safe from the elements. Unfortunately the only animals that are in the house are skittering between the floorboards above my head as I speak. I am tempted to invite the cat into the house...
Anyway, this is Canada - the wild part - and beautiful it is. The Lord is so good to provide such a place for me to come apart for awhile and spend time alone with just me and Him. And so I settle in, stoking the stove and watching the deer and considering the birds - and the love of my heavenly Father.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Last week I expected to be in Moldova by now but surprise, surprise, I am still in Canada. In Toronto, to be exact. In Toronto where my doctor is and where medical stuff happens. Waiting for an appointment with a specialist. Sigh. Some things are just better tended to in one's home country, so I decided it was better to stay and see things through rather than head back and have problems later. So, that's why I'm here. When there are more details to be shared, I will share them.
The down side - aside from anything medical - is that there are things I am supposed to be doing in Moldova and work that is waiting for me there. I missed saying goodbye to Viorica, who is off to serve in Angola. I will miss the beginning of our 'Challenge into Missions' course and the responsibilities that I have for teaching in that. I'm missing a leaders' meeting tomorrow and a visit from some colleagues next weekend. But mostly I'm missing my dear friends there. If anyone from my team is reading this, be assured that I will come back as soon as I possibly can. Mie dor de tine! Fiecare!
The up side is that God has given me a gift of time. An unexpected, unscheduled month to serve and honour Him in a way different than I had expected. But His ways are not our ways, and when He drops these gifts in our laps, we just need to lift them back up to Him in gratitude and with a prayer for wisdom in using them. My desire is to redeem the time. So before I make a thousand appointments and schedule coffees and plans with friends, I intend to spend at least a few days just being. The Lord has once again provided for my needs, with a home to stay in for the month, while the owners are away. My Heavenly Father has always taken such good care of me - how can I help but thank and praise Him? Even in the face of my uncertainty. He knows the plans He has for me.
So - what have I been up to? Well, a week ago Friday I had lunch with my dear friend Karen and her mother, who is also a good friend. One of the great things about Toronto is the many, many different kinds of restaurants. We went to the Mongolian Grill where they cook things (I suppose) Mongolian style: on a big round grill. You go and choose what you want - meat, vegies, rice or noodles, sauce - and then they cook it in front of you. Very cool and very tasty.
So, other than that, what I haven't told you about was the great Missions Conference last weekend at Yorkminster Park. It really went well and it was a great opportunity to touch base with a lot of different friends and to hear some wonderful speakers. There was a pastor visiting from Kenya, who shared with us some of the situation there right now in the wake of all the election upheaval. Another highlight of the weekend was a gift that was given to me by a friend - one of the Sunday School teachers. When I visited the Sunday School the previous week I had shown a picture of how muddy it gets in Moldova at times. She asked me what I wear at such times and I said that I keep my winter boots in the car in case of mud. She brought me a lovely pair of rubber boots, modelled in this picture, which I will be sporting next time it rains! In this photo I am also wearing my Moldovan hand-embroidered blouse and standing in front of the display booth that I had prepared.