Friday, April 28, 2006

Slice of heaven

The conference is over now. I've just had the most phenomenal week.

In the past few days, I have worshipped with people from every continent, shared tearful prayers with a Solomon Islander brother in Christ, in response to a profound devotional by a Brazilian leader. I have participated in the laying on of hands and prayer over African brothers and sisters, while they listened to a French translation over headsets. I have sat around until 1:30am discussing what "community" really means, and finding it, with dear brothers and sisters from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada. I've been convicted by the admonition and teaching of a Ghanaian leader. I have been moved by the testimony of a Chinese brother, and the prayers of an Arab fellow believer.

We have all been moved by the slice of heaven we have experienced here in the joyful fellowship of a multicoloured and diverse gathering of children of God. What profound power the gospel has to cross boundaries.

I've stumbled along clumsily in French in a few conversations with friends from Africa, and have so appreciated finding the joy of fellowship in what we have in common which is so much bigger than what separates us, even though we barely understand together.

I keep wishing people at home could have the opportunity to experience this slice of heaven. I'd like to see more of this even in Canada. I have some ideas... but more prayer and time is needed for now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Smooth as Silk

The title is from a box of food we got on the Thai Air portion of our trip here. The cover was this mix of colours, with Smooth as Silk written on it. We laughed, it was just so extra appetizing with that intro. It was fish sticks, salad and "salad cream." I have been taking pictures of funny signs that I have seen because afterwards I always wish that I had. I'll share those when I can download my pictures back home on my computer.

So, I've arrived safely in Thailand, and have been enjoying the conference here for the past 4 days. I wish I had room and time to share all of the experiences I've been having here. One of the things that I have been thinking about, and desiring to share is the experience of the ethnic diversity of the church. I started thinking about it when I was in Chicago for our layover there, and I was so tired but there was a group of people in the rows of seats behind me who were making so much noise, it was a bit annoying. They were just talking and laughing, very relaxed, and not doing anything wrong- I was just grumpy.

I turned and looked back and saw a group of Americans from a broad spectrum of racial backgrounds, ages and both genders. It was interesting to watch them, and it struck me, "I bet these people are Christians." I began to think of how that kind of ethnic diversity and harmony is not an extremely common sight, and it seemed a logical conclusion to me to think they are believers. Sure enough, I soon heard them talk about Jesus.

I've been thinking a lot about that this week as well, as I can't get away from it. The church and even the membership of PIis getting pretty diverse, and there is such a consensus of joy as we experience it. Just a snapshot: our worship team contains believers from UK, Madagascar, NZ, Solomon Islands, Ghana, US and Kyrgyzstan. This morning we were enormously blessed as a large group of our African brothers and sisters lead worship for us (you may assume it was a little more lively :) )

Yesterday, a brother from the Solomon Islands shared about what is going on there right now, in riots and demonstrations and the Chinese population being targeted in Honiara. (See part of story). We prayed for him, and other leaders and as he left the platform, I was struck by the powerful image of seeing a Chinese brother step up and offer a tearful embrace.

I just think the harmony of people from many nations is a testimony to the glory of God, and to the truth and power of the gospel to break down divisive walls and bring healing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Off I go

I was thinking... did I mention that I am going to Thailand again?

Well I am. I am packed and will be leaving in about ten minutes to go to the Robert Q shuttle pick up spot. There I will meet up with Scott and Melanie, and together the three of us will fly Toronto-Chicago-Tokyo-Bangkok. We'll have an overnight in Bangkok, then fly on to Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai we'll be attending a conference, and then I'll spend a few days visiting with friends from North Park who live in Thailand. On the return flight I'll be spending a few days in Vancouver.

I'm looking forward to sleeping on the plane. Sleep sounds good right now. :)

I'm sure I'll post more later, but for the next few days I will be in the air or in airports sleeping, reading and working on Sudoku puzzles. Till then...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cake creation #3

Ta-da! My latest cake creation. It's so funny at every cake class I feel a bit frustrated because everyone else is ahead of me, and doing so well. Then I take my cake home and realize it's not as bad as I thought.
So, this is my first fondant cake. Working with fondant is like playing with play-do. It's kind of fun, and actually not that hard.

(So mom- this is for you, see, I'm not as bad as you think. have some faith in me! :) )

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Always Come Back to the Solid Place

More from Henri Nouwen. The quote below is from the book "The Inner Voice of Love" which was basically his personal journal during the darkest time of his life. Many of his most beloved works were written out of what he learned, and what God did, through that time. This quote sums up how I've felt lately, in many ways.

Always Come Back to the Solid Place

You must believe in the yes that comes back when you ask, "Do you love me?" You must choose this yes even when you do not experience it.
You feel overwhelmed by distractions, fantasies, the disturbing desire to throw yourself into the world of pleasure. But you know already that you will not find there an answer to your deepest question. Nor does the answer lie in rehashing old events, or in guilt or shame. All of that makes you dissipate yourself and leave the rock on which your house is built.
You have to trust the place that is solid, the place where you can say yes to God's love even when you do not feel it. Right now you feel nothing except emptiness and the lack of strength to choose. But keep saying, "God loves me, and God's love is enough." You have to choose the solid place over and over again, and return to it after every failure.

I've felt so discouraged over the past few weeks. I felt so far from God, even though I knew He was as close as ever. I couldn't figure it out, but can't say I really tried. It was much easier to keep busy, and bury myself in distractions. The other day the Holy Spirit showed me that I was withholding forgiveness in a certain area, and that was the block. It's such a relief.

So today, I feel like God's love is enough. I recognize though, that that truth was just as true the other day, when I didn't feel it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Born to manifest the glory of God...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others"
- Nelson Mandela in his inaugeration speech.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cake Decorating- Part Deux

I might just be crazy. My parents think I am. :)
I've agreed to do my brother's wedding cake, an adaptation of the one pictured here.
I am starting Wilton 3- the slightly more advanced cake decorating class tonight. Remember my colourful clowns in October, and my self-made birthday cake? I'm skipping a level, and going right to #3 to learn "Wedding Cakes."
I know, clowns to multi-level fondant is a big jump. But look how simple it is...
My mom keeps trying to talk me out of it; she says that if I am too nervous she can just order a cake from a professional. She has said this about twice a week for the past 4 months.

I'm not nervous though. I'm much more nervous about being the co-MC at the reception, and with this one, I question not my own sanity, but Deven & Heather's in asking me!