Here’s my latest update on the “news” : October News. Happy reading!
I couldn’t take anyone in my suitcase with me to Ivory Coast, but I can introduce you to some of the people whom I met and who impacted me.
I was so glad to find Rachel again, who participated in the PCYM school last year in Joliette. It made me feel less dis-oriented to have someone I already knew and who understood better how things worked. She was my reference person for silly questions like “can I wear this?” or “what do I use to clean my bathroom?” 😛 And she took care of me, helping me to buy fruit or other things at the local market.
Met my namesake and her sister at a Family Ministry day that the Fortify participants helped organize mid August, and this family was so amazing. In my search of dried mangoes at the end of my stay, they took time to stop into several market places and look for me. When we couldn’t find any, they offered me something else to bring back as a gift.
Tata Gene, Esther and Evodie. Beautiful ladies full of joy, gentleness and servant-hearted. Gene was always asking if the kitchen prepared me my breakfast, and Evodie inspired me with her artistic side and her fashion sense. She knew how to dress well.
The girl on the right was my roommate during Fortify, Elise, and a soon to be teammate in YWAM/KK Lanaudière! What a treat to discover this talented, enthusiastic and beautiful lady. We hit it off right away and I was blessed by our late night conversations, our early morning fitness sessions, and her worshipers heart.
Partners in crime for the children’s program: Fanny, who accepted the role of coordinator and looked after the 9 to 14 year olds, Kathy and Joyce, these brave young ladies who led the pre-school group. Without them it wouldn’t have been the same. I was impressed by Fanny’s devotion, her creativity and generosity. I loved Kathy’s enthusiasm and sense of humour, and Joyce became my little African sister. We had some deep conversations and big laughs together.
I got to know Ingela a bit better when I agreed to translate her workshop on Grandparents one Saturday, and we hit it off. I knew I could knock on her door when I wanted to chat with someone and I found a walking partner to explore outside the compound. Her prayers, advice and listening ear were a gift to me.
My little African brother, Derlich, always poking fun, always generous, especially when it came to candy and the kids, well-spoken, servant-hearted and seeking after Jesus. He was part of our “tribe” group and he played some great djembe rhythms. Not scared of a challenge, he decided he was strong enough to carry me across a field during a creative prayer activity. And he succeeded 😛
Kathy is a woman with an incredibly large heart. It was so fun to spend time with her and her family, to see more of her passion for strengthening families and her gift to call out peoples’ potential. She’s a person who makes you feel seen, heard and valued even in the midst of a crowd. An inspiring example to me and probably many others.
Another member of this incredible family, Ahna, with her son. She was my prayer partner during Fortify. I appreciated her authenticity, her encouragement and the opportunity to mutually speak into each others lives. She also has a beautiful and generous heart.
The list could go on and on! I shall stop here before it becomes an information overload 😉 I am truly grateful to the Lord for the people He put on my path during my time in Ivory Coast.
With a summer birthday, I have had the privilege to celebrate in many exotic places over the years (like Sweden, Switzerland, PNG, Ivory Coast, Vancouver Island… :p) This year I got to share my birthday with a beautiful little girl from France whose family was attending Fortify and Independence Day for the Ivory Coast. The running joke was that someone organized a huge party in honour of our birthdays.
We had fasted the day before – and actually for more than 24 hours because we started the Friday night – and so sleeping through the night was quite of hard on an empty, empty stomach. But the day was full of love and surprises from different people.
There was a big party hosted by Papa Aggrey, the owner of the retreat centre in celebration of Independence Day complete with fresh coconuts, Ivory Coast flags and some presentations.
I should also mention that we (King’s Kids) were asked to present during the official part of the celebrations, so we shared a choreography we had learned during the first week of Fortify, in which I had a solo part along with two other girls. A powerful piece as the movements correspond with the text and of course with our focus being to worship God. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from that. And I was asked impromptu to translate for the MC at one point. Fun times 😛
No gluten-free birthday cake here, instead coffee-flavoured ice cream, popcorn and some sangria!
And on the Monday at snack, bananas with whipped cream, bonbon on brochette (there were some happy children!) and la bascule (birthday bumps, a Québec YWAM tradition)!
A day to remember!
With no plans to return to Calgary before Christmas, it was fun to receive a visit from the west, and especially for my year-end show with Symbiose. The show date was a busy day for my teammates and church friends, some were involved in a wedding, some in an inter-denominational worship event. While having spectators in the audience is not the only motivation for partaking in a show, it certainly is nice to know that someone has come specifically to watch you 😛
The bonus is having pictures from the show:
We also got up to some other adventures like a hike in the Regional Park des 7 Chutes,
lunch with my teammates and their family,
and an exploratory visit of the soon to be (and now existent) reception hall where our church will holds its gatherings.
Thanks Dwight for coming out! And for bringing me some of my sister’s delicious carrot cake that all my family raved about at every spring birthday! A real treat.
Now that we have an apartment with a spare room who’s next?? 😉
Have you ever experienced the feeling of being at the right place in the right timing? Where what you sensed you heard from God lines up with what you see, hear and experience, where you meet people and think to yourself “I was supposed to meet this person”? During our King’s Kids outreach we experienced just that, and it’s pretty addictive, in the sense that it inspired us to seek after more of those moments.
When praying for the destination of the outreach, we felt we should go to Hamilton with a stop in Kingston and in Montréal en route. Shortly after we received the impression, we received an email from a lady who had been involved with King’s Kids in her youth and who wanted to speak with someone about starting up something in that line in Kingston(!). On the way to Hamilton we met with the lady and her family as well as another lady who volunteered in their café church in Kingston. They generously prepared a meal for us and we prayed together before going back on the road. The other lady had several discs in her back that were immobile and a pinched nerve due to some muscles being in a permanent contraction that prevented her from putting her foot completely flat on the ground. Let’s just say I had compassion for her with my brief experience of sciatica and back problems. We prayed for healing and the pain went from being acute (10/10) to moderate (6/10) and kept lessening – and the muscles released so she could put her foot on the ground ! So wonderful to see Jesus in action!
In Hamilton we were so generously welcomed by a local family, their church and our friends D&S – we didn’t have to buy any groceries until the last day of our stay in Hamilton. It felt like God had prepared our stay for us in advance, not only with hospitality but also in the chance we had to connect with a couple different groups in the city like 541 or the House of Prayer. Which by the way, 541 is a crazy cool initiative to offer healthy quality meals to lower-income and higher-income alike with a button system that permits those who might not have enough money to still purchase a meal. Check out the link to their site 😉
We met several people at the right place, right time. My teammate’s son and I were walking in the park one afternoon and saw a woman sitting on a bench whom we felt we should speak to. We found out that she was preparing for her wedding and that she would be happy for us to pray with her about the preparations and her future marriage. She was so touched that we offered to pray with her that she took our picture as a souvenir.
Another day, I went with some youth to a prayer truck which was set up outside another organisation that worked with street youth and ran a food truck. One of the coordinators for the food truck came over and asked us to pray for the generator because it was malfunctioning and they had a catering engagement to attend. The youth, the prayer truck volunteer and I went over to the truck and we prayed for the generator which started working normally again. Who’d have thought? 😛
Just a few stories that inspire me to keep listening to that still, small voice that leads to meaningful encounters with others and with God’s presence. And you may catch me praying for my electronic devices or my car 😛
My roommate Camille and I get along pretty well on most days. We try to communicate as best we can our thoughts, feelings and expectations to one another, and we respond with graciousness when it’s not a good day. Then approached the start date of our King’s Kids outreach.
I think most people can agree that before an event (in any case something important in their lives), they usually feel stressed, nervous, excited or some mix of the same. The day before the outreach began, Camille and I were not just excited – and probably stressed because we also had to pack all our things into boxes and move out of our house 😛 – we were also communicating right past one another.
Our team was doing a Quartier Libre program in the park that afternoon. We went to pick up the materials at the office and I was grumbling to Camille about how she could use the button in the car to lock the doors so that I didn’t have to always lock them. (Bad attitude right there lol). We stopped at the gas station for a fill-up and I hopped out of the car leaving the keys, my phone and wallet on my seat. Before Camille gets out of the car she pushes the button to lock the doors…Now both of us our frustrated. I can’t open the doors without the keys, I can’t call someone on my phone and I can’t even fill up my tank with gas because my $ is locked in the car :S
Long story short, we could call my teammates and the CAA using the gas station’s phone. While waiting for the tow truck or my spare set of keys to arrive with my teammates, we sat on the curb and were able to ask each other for forgiveness. At that moment we had a revelation; the last time we had gotten so much on each others nerves was before our trip to LA and Asuza. That trip had been a highlight on our spiritual journeys where God showed up powerfully to speak to us and grow us, and where we had seen miracles (people getting physically healed, etc.). On the eve of the outreach, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Enemy was using the same tactic to discourage and confuse us. So we prayed together and took stand against any attacks, asking for God’s protection over our communications and our friendship. The reality is Camille and I didn’t have any more issues for the rest of the day nor the 10-day outreach. God heard our prayers! And the CAA tow truck arrived at the same time as my spare set of keys – that’s good timing 😛
My encouragement to each of us is to close the door on outside interference, especially in those relationships which are important to us. We can have enough trouble as it is communicating clearly and constructively so why not give ourselves a better chance and put our relationships under God’s protection and grace. Just a thought.
Thanks for reading. À la prochaine!
Sometimes we’re just supposed to meet someone, maybe to be encouraged, to give encouragement, to be brought farther in our personal reflections, to be challenged or to challenged.
Camille and I stayed with a couple in Denver before flying back to Montréal – it was a contact of a contact through KK. Incredibly generous and brave to welcome total strangers into your home. Our host spoiled us with filet mignon for supper (mmm!), with comfortable beds and interesting conversation. In the morning she drove us to the airport (what a gift not to have to organise a taxi!). We prayed with her in the car before being dropped off at the airport, and it was a powerful moment. Camille and I could really feel the presence of God and His immense love for this woman. She was clearly touched and encouraged by our prayers and what she felt. We might never meet again until heaven but it seems that we were supposed to meet then.
During our two flights, I sat next two interesting gentlemen. I felt challenged by the first man to have the right priorities in life. He admitted to being rather well to-do, saying that his wealth did not bring him happiness. In fact, he was adament that if he could start his life over again, he’d have gotten married sooner and had more kids. That was his happiness. The second man was a business-man from NB who worked for an Austrian company. When I noticed that his shoulder was bothering him, I offered to pray for him and this offer opened up a discussion on faith. He believed the Bible to be an historical book, but that he also believed the stone had been rolled away from the tomb…in the end he accepted that I pray for his shoulder, and when I asked how he felt, he said it seemed better but that he would have to fully test it out. I’d like to believe that God healed him. And maybe his reflections on faith were pushed a little farther 😉
Thanks for reading. À la prochaine!
I never might have guessed how beautiful the dessert could be. Much of the drive from LA through Nevada was uneventful, then we hit Arizona/Utah and the landscape started changing. While I did not get a chance to see the Grand Canyon itself, I saw some pretty impressive rock formations, likely improved by the good lighting from the sun in the west 😉
We arrived after dark to our campground in Glen Canyon National Rec area, and had great fun setting up our tents with headlamps. One of my first ever camping experiences where I was too hot during the night haha!
I had to get up once in the night, and what a treat to see the magnificient sky full of stars and the milky way. I’d seen stars that well in NZ in Lake Tekapo where they even have special streetlights to diminish the light pollution. At the campground we must also have been far enough away from most civilisation to be privy to such a view.
Nothing could have prepared me for the morning and the sight of Lake Powell. I was pretty awed. Okay, so I’ve since learned it’s an artificial lake created when they built the Glen Canyon Dam but my initial response remains. It was still a highlight of the drive for me.
Thanks for reading. À la prochaine!
Because it’s important to give credit where it is due, I’d like to thank Dr. Seuss for his fun book under this name, and I’ll borrow the title for my blog entry 😛
Going on the KK outreach to Los Angeles I couldn’t have imagined beforehand all the different places we’d see or the different activities we’d do. One of our main focusses on the trip, which may come as no surprise, being one of the KK values, was to bring joy to God’s heart. It meant we got to have quiet time each morning individually to spend time reading our bibles and listening to God, and that we intentionally took time as a group to worship, pray and share what God was speaking. Usually He had put something on our hearts that was confirmed by several members of the team.
And it so happened that what we received, when put altogether, led us on a drive through some well-known places in LA. The purpose of our trip wasn’t tourism but I see God’s sense of humour in where we were led: Hollywood, Beverley Hills, UCLA (University of California, LA), down to Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
Venice Beach is full of interesting characters. Together with Y., my teammates’ son, we walked a ways down the boardwalk and met a woman in a wheel chair named Bonnie. She had a half-toothed smile and a story to tell. Her hip didn’t get better after we prayed with her, but I think she was touched by our gesture and she said goodbye with a big “God bless”.
Another evening, the whole team was invited to supper at a Korean BBQ restaurant. If you are a meat-lover, then this kind of restaurant is up your alley. On an outreach, especially one with lots of car time, I knew we’d signed up for lots of sandwiches. This was a treat! I think the teens were the most excited of all of us 😛
One afternoon we spent some time at Azusa Street, site of the first “Azusa Street revival”, and gathering place for some groups leading up to Azusa Now. One of my teammates saw some of her good friends and she introduced me. One of the men had a brace on his wrist, so we prayed, and after a couple of times, the pain was gone and he didn’t need the brace anymore. It was only afterwards that I learned I met a First Nations chief as well as the leader of the band Broken Walls. I was kind of glad for my ignorance because I would have otherwise been embarassed haha!
We returned to Santa Monica on our last day in LA for a visit to the pier and to the beach. I couldn’t come all this way and not take a dip in the ocean. Even in April on a semi-cloudy day. Along with a few other brave souls, we jumped in the chilly water to make a good memory – and some kept going back in :p
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine!