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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quietly Equipping

While booking my trip to come to New Zealand, I was super excited to see how God is working here... and today I was able to get a great taste of what is happening in one small church plant.
On October 31st: At nine this morning Travis and I drove up to "K road" to find the church offices.  I say "up" because Auckland is full of hills and the church is seriously up from the Scott's home.  K is for Karangahape.  Travis unlocked the building which is mainly under construction and I waited down the hall while he opened the office room.  Setting up for the equipping class, and getting coffee ready kept us busy until 10 am when four other ladies joined us for "Equipping Class".  It's like adult Sunday school, except that in NZ, Sunday school is only for children. 
The morning did not turn out at all as expected because less than half the normal crowd did not make an appearance.  So we had a good discussion morning on rationalizing our faith - to KNOW what we believe.  A question was also raised about whether or not we should even reach out to those who want to go to hell and don't even care.  Deep topics... and very informative and well-thought through answers were had.
A quiet afternoon followed... with lunch, a nap, and some down time, before heading over to another lady's home for House Church.
I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few young adults in this group.  We gathered at 6 pm for a potluck meal, and then at 7 pm 23 of us circled round for a service without song.  We shared liturgies and had a deep teaching on the Wide and Narrow Gates.  It may not be easy to follow on the narrow path, but I am so grateful that I have chosen Jesus... who is the Gate, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.... so I will stand with Him in the end.
All in all, it was a very insightful day and I must admit I was glad to meet such a great group of educated, intellectual, and thought-provoking people.  Somehow I was expecting an older group... who hardly knew the Scriptures, but this group truly thirsts for a depth of knowledge.  And I am so proud to see Travis lead this tender flock - with patience, perseverence, and a gift for studying and teaching God's Word.  I will be praying they find a place to worship before they begin to have Sunday morning services, which they hope to launch in April.  Feel free to pray with me, that God's will be done in Auckland Central.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Auckland, New Zealand

One in the morning and I finally cleared customs, ending my long transit across four countries.  I quickly spotted my buddy Travis, who drove me to his quaint little home in Freeman's Bay.  We chatted for a bit while I crunched on a bowl of cereal and then I finally crashed on a wonderfully stiff bed.

Saturday, October 30 started off as a quiet day.  Tea, relaxing, a nap, as the rains poured outside, but later in the day we headed for Muriwai beach.  A landing point for gannets... a white and yellow bird.

Can you find the two love birds?
Stunning scenery and then a trip to Dante's Pizza for supper.  Thin crust with chillies, speck bacon, cheese, all cooked in an authentic fire oven.  A winner in my books.

Last night Brooke and I ventured out to an expat and friends Halloween Party.  I brought with a Native Indian costume that Mom uses for teaching and Brooke went as Pipi Long Stocking.
We thought we looked pretty good until we arrived and noticed a spooky pathway that lead to the back yard.  Close to 30 people were milling about, enjoying a great barbecue and showing off their costumes.  Hokey smokes did these people ever dress up.  Rental costumes, glued on extremities, painted faces and ad libbed characters.
The inside of the home had spooky music playing, with a ghost playing the piano and another man lying in the bath tub.  Spiders decorated the toilet area while a black cat preened through the home.

The games were fun.  Every person was given a tin can, which was placed directly in front of them, on the floor.  The each person received a black garbage bag with an orange inside.  One had to hold the garbage bag behind their backs and swing it so that the orange gathered enough momentum to knock the can... across the room.  It was so funny watching Brooke win!
The second game got us all out of our comfort zone.  We lined up in groups of 10.  The first person was given an orange, which was place under their chin.  The second person had to take the orange from the first person, without using their hands.  So neck to neck, with some hilarious poses, the oranges were passed down the line.  I am proud to say that my team won!!  I didn't know I was so experienced.  :)

Home by ten because it was a cold outdoor party and I really needed to crash.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Australia for a day!

Today was truly eventful.  I had a tiresome 13 hour flight from LAX and landed at 7 am in Brisbanne, Australia.  I went through customs... and delightfully the airport kept my bags checked so I could explore the city on foot.  I bought a train ticket into the city and by 8:45 am I was ready to explore the city.

First I went to St. John's church and reverently meandered through the beautiful place of worship. 
Then off for a long stroll through the botanical gardens, where I glimpsed iguanas, immense trees (jacarandas are my favs for today), and listened to thousands of birds. 
Crossing the river on a foot bridge I strolled South Bank - with parks, restaurants, and I decided to take an hour and a half ferry that described the history of Brisbanne.  Grabbed fish cakes on the River City Cruise.
Slowly made my way through the Queensland Art Gallery, and then walked back through the famous Anne Street shopping district.  My shoulders are tired from lugging around my carry-on, but I am once again at the airport... and hour away from the next stage of my journey.  Hopefully Brooke gets my room cleaned up before I arrive.  :)
This was one of my favourite paintings at the art gallery, showing off the jacaranda tree I loved today.
This is a very brief glimpse of my day in Australia.  When I have more time for internet I will post pics and better descriptions... I just want to make sure my family knows I am alive - and loving it!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Vacation Has Begun

Driving with my parents to the airport in rush-hour traffic was a somewhat stressful venture.  We were all advising each other on which route would be the best to take and I think we took all the slowest routes possible.  I arrived just in time to check-in my bag, pass through customs, go through security, and stand in a short line to board the plane.  9:10 am departure from Toronto.  Arrived at 11:30 am in Los Angeles, CA.
An old friend picked me up at the airport... he arrived at the terminal just as I stepped out of baggage claim... great timing!!  We drove over to Seal Beach and went to eat Mexican food.  I had my favourite - a pork chimichanga.  A walk along the pier finally made me realize that I was on vacation - people were tanning on the beach and young guys were surfing.  A pelican dove in for his lunch and mussels clung to the posts.  A gorgeously warm day in sunny California.

Then it was off to the Wayfarers Chapel on Palos Verdes Drive.  A gorgeous coastal view brought us to this glass chapel, built with tall redwoods surrounding the sanctuary.  Humming birds fluttered amidst the Mexican sage... a bright purple flower. 
I love California - the palm trees, the colourful architecture, the warm weather, the city life!!

Now I am at Trinity CRC in Artesia... I'm preparing to share about Uganda with the youth group before jetting back to the airport to catch my next flight at midnight to Australia.

Having a great time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Tweety Helmet

This morning my brother Richard and I were digging through the boxes of stuff under the stairwell in the basement.  I wanted to find a costume to bring to NZ, since I am invited to a Halloween party there - if I will be awake at the time.  :)
While searching for the costume box Rick found Dad's old broomball bag.  Out came the infamous Tweety helmet.  Dust and old sweat fell from the inside, while loads of memories filled my mind.
Many Saturday nights of my youth were spent at the Blyth arena, watching my Dad play broomball.  While Dad ran on the ice, my brothers, cousins, and I would run around the rink... over and over.  We thought it was fun to chase eachother off the ice while Dad sweated on the ice.
During the twenty-five minute car ride, two and from the arena, the five of us would sing loads of old songs:
"The Marvelous Toy", "Cathy's Clown", "Where Have all the Flowers Gone", and more.  I cherish those Saturday nights.  (Mom stayed home to wash the kitchen floor and have some down time.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Election Humour

Wiping the sauce off my cheeks, after eating juicy spare ribs, I walk to the front door.  The door bell had chimed, announcing a visitor.  Turning on the porch light, and opening the door, I spot a lady half way to the next house already.  She quickly switched directions and stepped up on to our porch, handing me an election brochure.  A candidate for mayor.
"Are you the home owner?" she asks.
"No, this house belongs to my parents, but I do live here." I could tell she was campaigning, and I too need to know who is running in the present election.
"Oh, so you are voting then."
"Yes, I am, although I don't have a voters card yet."  Somehow the local government hasn't been able to track me down.
"So, this is your first election? You are nineteen right?  Are you eligible to vote?" 
I chuckle softly.  "Yes, I'm 34, I've voted a few times."
With a look of apologetic embarrassment, she recovers by saying, "Wow, you have that eternal youth look.  Way to go!"... and then she proceeded to tell me what the mayoral candidate stood for.
A few moments later I closed the door, walked back to the kitchen table and had a good laugh with Mom and Dad.  How did I go from being a home owner, to just being of eligible age to vote?  Ha Ha!!  Good times.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunrise Glory

Frost rests on the rooftops as the sun begins to raise its yellow head over the forested peak in the marsh.  A glowing orange ball amidst a field of fog rises even higher to display pinks and purples that stretch miles further across the sky.  Stubborn streetlights eventually choose to shut off for the day as jet planes zoom through the air, leaving a trail of narrow white lines,that soon become one with the clouds.  Geese gather into a V formation and loudly remind eachother that the flight south must soon begin.

"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain, and makes grass grow on the hills. 
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man;
The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." 
Psalm 147:7-11

Sleepy sand threatens to hold on in the corner of my eyes, but my heart is glad I took the time to get out of bed early and take in God's glorious creation.  What a great way to start my day!

Last night while I was driving home from work, I slowed down as I approached not only a curve in the distance, but the biggest set of eyes glowing in the middle of the barren sideroad.  Thinking it was a coon, cat, or possibly deer, I drove closer and was surprised to find that it was a very tall Blue Heron resting in the middle of the road.  I almost had to completely stop before the bird gracefully opened large wings and flew away.  It was a cool sight, considering these majestic birds are often hard to sight at a waters edge where one knows they live.   
I spotted this Blue Heron while fishing with Dad earlier in the summer. I thank God for eyes to see Him... in His Word and creation... before I begin my schedule for the day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm Feelin' It!

Snuggling under my huge duvet, trying to sleep in within a super dark room, I start to get antsy, knowing that extra zzzz's are not a possibility today.  My mind is running with so many thoughts, that I feel the need to jump out of bed and share some of those thoughts with you - my friends around the world.  Upon opening my bedroom door, I realize that the sun is intensely shining down and now I know why I feel so good today.  (Well, and the fact that I serve a faithful and loving God!!)
  • Mom and Dad are off to the Ride for Refuge bike-a-thon today.  I am so proud of Mom as she raised more than twice the amount of money she thought she would... and all the money goes to Team Beyond in Uganda.  That means the orphans, former child soldiers, and other vulnerable people will be receiving help from some people in the Newmarket area, who pulled together to support my Mom.  Dad went with to cheer for Mom as she bikes 25 km.
  • My bedroom is starting to collect items to take with me to New Zealand in a few weeks.  I am heading over to Auckland for a much needed and deserved vacation.  The tickets and travel insurance brochures are on my desk, along with some real Canadian Maple Syrup to take to my dear friends who I will be going to visit.  A trip to the library is rewarded with three travel books about New Zealand and one for Australia - since I have 11 hours in Brisbane to explore.
  • Just outside my bedroom door is the rec room in my parents house.  There is an extra table down there which I have taken over - with piles and piles of cards.  I love writing cards... whether for people at church, friends on my verjaardag calendar, or Christmas cards for (what seems like) everyone I know.  Yesterday I sent out my first package of Christmas cards to Uganda, hoping that it will make it in time for Christmas.  :)
  • I have a feeling that I will be heading back to Africa soon.  I am once again communicating with my team-mates, church, and the mission agency to bring it all together... since I can't stop thinking about all the ministry that is needed to be done there... and how much I felt at home there, I can no longer stay home in Canada.  I hear more and more the clarity from God to go back and serve His people in East Africa.
  • And my last thought for today is how blessed I am to have such amazing friends, whether nearby or far away.  I am always grateful for phone calls - one came from Uganda this week - from Moses who was excited to share with me what God is continuing to do with the children's ministry in Soroti.  Another came from a precious friend in whose wedding I will be a bridesmaid in just 6 weeks time.  I love hugs, as a simple greeting, or after a long heart-to-heart.  And when it can all be tied together with music, it's perfect.  I would love for you to listen to a song that my Aruban friend "Curt Fortin" wrote, played, and sang.  I met him in the Netherlands, and after 10 years, I can still call him "My Friend!"  Take a listen by clicking on this highlighted word "MY FRIEND". 
  • May you feel sunny moments today too and feel free to share them with me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Houdini Posters

Waking up early for the past six days, I would dash upstairs to release Houdini from his bucket cage. Lifting the oven rack lid, I'd slide my hand in and catch this tiny yellow bird. Wrapping his feet around one of my fingers, we'd skip back down the stairs and I'd release him to flying freedom around the rec room. I loved getting him out of the cage because he became a cheerful song bird, especially when he could zoom around in front of the big sunny windows. Dad wasn't always the biggest fan of a free bird because I had to clean a few bird tirds out of the carpet.
The other day I made posters with his gorgeous photo in the centre:
"Found: One beautiful yellow canary on October 6th.... If he belongs to you, please call 555-5555." I drove around the neighbourhood and hung up these posters on 8 nearby mailboxes. Yesterday was the first day people would collect mail again, since it was a holiday weekend... so I was hopeful Houdini's owner would call us. Although as a family we were all talking about buying a bird cage... and we've been researching what canaries eat, etc. I had bought some canary spray millet the other day and every day he had fresh water in his cage.
While playing euchre with my Sunday night, we all enjoyed having Houdini constantly flying over our heads. He would sing from the light shade hanging over the table. And eventually he settled down to rest in some bread baskets tucked up above the kitchen cupboards.
Last night, when I was driving home from work at 11:15 pm, I noticed that my posters were no longer hanging on two of the mailboxes that I drove past. I was so curious. I thought maybe Houdini's owner had called, and so the posters were taken down. Dad was waiting for me when I got home. Dad had taken the posters down for a different reason. Houdini had been a cheeful song bird at 2 in the afternoon, enjoying some freedom in the kitchen (which is rare because Dad doesn't often let him out.) At 4, when Rick got home from work, Houdini was on his perch in the bucket, and at 5 pm, Houdini had breathed his last at the bottom of the bucket.
We are all stunned and baffled. He was only 2, and had been very lively. Now I must go out and dig a small grave in the garden. My little song bird is now singing in the arms of his Creator.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jordash Inc.

Three years ago I competed in a small town "Get to Know Your Local Business" competition and I had a great time getting to know people and businesses. I had to collect a different passport stamp from each store that I walked in to and also had to find clues from the newspaper and internet. I ended up winning $250 to spend at the participating businesses and I also won a gorgeous glass art ball with a tree inside. I won the art for filling out the WHOLE passport!
My favourite stop was to a rural gallery called Jordash Inc. It was/is run by a beautiful lady who was born in Ghana. We became fast friends when I returned to the gallery with some of the prize money. But ever since the competition, I not only stop by her property to shop, I am now invited over for meals and tea too... since we love to share what God is doing in our lives. I am grateful to have Patricia as a friend. May God bless her and watch over her.
This coming weekend, Patricia is having a special event at her gallery, and every one is welcome... although, you can stop by any Thursday - Saturday to shop, and Sunday afternoons. I have a feeling you will enjoy this precious little gift shop / art gallery, just on the outskirts of Toronto. :) O, this week I taught Patricia how to put together a blog... so feel free to check out what she has to say at: Distinct Art, Sculpture, Fashion, and Home Accents.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ride for Refuge

I sent out this email earlier today, but thought I should post in on my blog as well!
Dearest Friends and Family,
I am writing this message on behalf of MOM because she is shy about fundraising (and I used to be!!). And I feel like I can ask for her, because it is a cause I am deeply involved in. On Saturday, October 16, Mom is biking 25km for "Ride for Refuge". Our church has 5 people biking to raise money for the ministries that are happening in Soroti, Uganda. Team Beyond - the team I served with last year, is raising money to continue assisting former child soldiers, and is also in the process of opening an orphanage for truly desperate children. I am proud of Team Beyond and wish that I could be there with them (and probably will be soon), but for now, I can support them with my heart and prayers.
I am unable to ride on Saturday, due to work, but MOM was excited to ride again. Would you be willing to support MOM in her ride? Donations can be given on-line (and are tax-receiptable) at: Click on "Sponser Me" beside Cathy Lubbers and go from there! It is on the website for "Ride for Refuge Canada". Or email MOM and let her know you are willing to support her. You can send her cheques: written out to "Ride for Refuge" and put Cathy Lubbers in the memo section. It's happening this week, so email me and let me know if you are willing to sponsor her on behalf of my Team Beyond. Together, let's make a difference for the Lord in Uganda!
Karen Lubbers
Actually, if you are an American, you can sponsor a team in Grand Rapids that is riding also for Team Beyond in Soroti. Sponsor the team at this site: Thank you everyone!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yesterday's Tweet

Climbing up the stairs at 11am, I entered the kitchen to make some chai tea. Putting the milk on to heat, I walked over to the window to look at the sunny fall sky outside. To my surprise, a yellow bird had come to visit our deck. My first thought was a finch, but upon looking closer, I thought, "no, it's too yellow." Dad was sitting on the couch, resting his knee after surgery last Friday, but he even got up to take a closer look.
Slowly opening the sliding door, I cautiously stepped out on to the deck. The bird didn't move. I came within thirty inches of it, before it started to just jump away. It had blue tags on it's feet... obviously someone's pet.
I attempted to catch it, and so did Dad and our neighbour. (So did our neighbour's two little dogs, but thankfully Houdini flew the short distance of 4 feet back to our deck.) I left the door open, and within about 5 minutes time Houdini flew in to the house.
Perching on the couch, it was much easier to catch our little lost friend. Soon we became buds.
Houdini made himself at home on the main floor of the house, until I made a makeshift cage for him. A bucket with a stick for him to climb on, and two little containers for water and sesame seeds. I placed a cookie rack over the top of the bucket... and ta da... I have a pet.
I can't keep him in the bucket though. I love having Houdini tweet around and rest on my hands. The tags on his legs tell me that he was born in 2008, but after calling a pet store, there is no way to mark it's own.
As much as I love having Houdini around, he belongs to someone else. I may need to make posters to hang on the area mailboxes... and or check the newspaper for missing ads.
Dad has always loved Tweety Bird, and he too was excited to learn that yellow canaries are also called Tweeties.... he finally has a tweety of his own. :)

My KitKat Moments

Yes, I found time to "have a break today!"
Driving around the country side, near Schomberg, I spotted a jockey riding a horse over jumps, a combine bringing in the crops, and a pair of beady eyes staring me down from the side of the road. Those eyes brought the first line of my sixth grade speech back to the front of my memories: "I remember the summer I spent with a thief and he stole my heart!" Ladies and Gentlemen, that thief's name was Bandit, my pet racoon. Bandit used to sit on my shoulder and play with my hair, using his intricate little hands. He had the cutest purr as he awaited corn on the cob or some other special treat for dinner. I know that most people see racoons as pests, but they are my most favourite animal. The diversity of fall colours and landscapes grips my heart every day right now!
As I was driving around, the word "fall" started swimming around in my thinking. I pondered how Adam and Eve fell when they ate the forbidden fruit. And now how all of humankind is a fallen people. No matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect. Thankfully, God sent his one and only Son to die for us.... so that if we repent of our fallen nature, he will cleanse us and call us His own. God loves us and really wants us to live in the perfect garden of eternity with Him.
And then to spot a rainbow at the end of the day, for me, once again sealed the promise that God will never again destroy all of His people. O, what a glorious God we serve!
How Great Thou Art (O Lord My God!)
by Stuart K. Hine
O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades
I wanderAnd hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze

And when I think that God His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die-I scarce can take it in
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home-what joy shall fill my heart!
Then shall I bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
© 1953 Stuart K. Hine

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Colourful Creation

All week I was looking forward to a day off of work, so that I could drive north and explore the fall colours. When I woke up yesterday morning, I was so excited to see that the sun was shining, and the sky was that perfect blue that I love, with fluffy white clouds. My heart sings as I head out on the highway... to destination number 1: Base Borden. Slowing down to 15 km an hour, I keep my eyes open for deer and men in camoflauge. :) On this day, I was unable to spot any troops doing marching drills, but I was still filled with a sense of pride, knowing that Canada also plays a part in bringing peace around the world. I headed to the home of a military police office to catch up with a friend of mine.
We chatted for a few moments, then loaded up the car with her 11 month old son and drove even further north to Wasaga Beach, destination #2. Wasaga is a hopping summer destination, but it was absolutely quiet on this fresh fall day. The wind blew and the waves gently greeted the shore. Three of us were grateful for the pink noses and rosey cheeks on our faces.
A hearty hike along the boardwalk had our hearts pumping, but I kept joking that the baby's bottom might get itchy from all the stroller bumping. Every board on the walkway made a daduh, daduh sound under the wheels of the stroller.
Destination #3: For dinner I was introduced to Mucho Burrito in Barrie. I ate the most delicious spicy salad bowl... the bowl was made with a tortilla, filled with lettuce, black beans, guacamole, cheese, pulled pork, veggies and hot salsa. Yum Yum.
On my way home, I knew that I had had the perfect day off, with a wonderful friend.
Bones the Bear is helping me to appreciate the fall colours, because occasionally this season can sadden me... it reminds me that winter is just around the corner.
The other day I went to visit another friend and she wanted to tell me a story of one of my prayer bears. You see, I knit these faceless teddies and send them to people all around the world. So far I have knit 135 bears. Each one takes approximately nine hours... so I am unable to send them out as often as I wish. They are symbols that I have prayed for the person that is receiving the bear, and often when people see them, they say a little prayer for me too.
Well, my dear friend told me that she uses this bear while counselling children. The kids hold the bear tightly to feel more comfortable, or they speak about what facial expressions the bear might have, to express the feelings that are inside of them. What a blessing!! God is so good!