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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nova Scotia in T minus three days!

Tomorrow morning we leave for the Vineyard conference in Nova Scotia! I'm so excited. And stressed. I don't know why I'm stressed. Jason is the one who gets stressed about these kinds of things. Maybe I'm being nice and taking his stress. I hate being nice.

So all our stuff is nearly packed. Except my bag. Jason was going to share a duffle bag with me, but when I got home the bag was full and I hadn't added anything to it yet. Boo. But he's going to let me have a look at it in a few minutes and see if I can't fit all my stuff in there anyway. I know I can. He just has to believe. Sing it with me: There can be miracles when you believe, though hope is frail it's hard to kill, who knows what miracles you can acheive when you believe, somehow you will, you will when you believe.......apologies for my Prince of Egypt moment. But I know some of you enjoyed that and were singing along proudly. I see that hand. Thanks for being honest.

We're going to be eating good stuff. Becky and I got together to do the planning and the shopping and the cooking. A partial menu includes: pancakes, chilli, egg salad, potato salad, tuna salad (the theme this week is salads), caesar salad, spaghetti, leek & ham soup, pork & beans, and s'mores. Don't you wish you were coming with us?

I'm tired. I need to pack my things and go to bed so I can pack the cooler in the morning. Don't expect to hear from me between now and then, but thanks anyway. I'll see if we can't find some place where they'll let us use the internet occasionally and give her the old check. If there is any sort of emergency, I can be reached on my cell phone. If you don't have my cell number, it's not an emergency.

PS--I've been working this week! It felt really good to earn some money with my own two hands. I love taking care of babies and mums. And she paid me in cash so we've got some foldy stuff for the tolls, gas, etc. Hooray!

Thank you everyone for your prayers and encouragement. Still waiting on a wee letter from the FBI in order for immigration to continue with my application. Dana will be a dear and take care of my tomatoes (defending them from the likes of Cacahuete and Mr. Cacahuete who we have just named Chipotle) and other various plants.

I hope we get to swim lots. In the ocean. Although I just found out that our campsite will have a pool, so that's good. I'm thinking twice a day, or more. I love to swim. Especially in the salty sea, when it's hot and you can just lay back on the waves and fall asleep. That's my favourite. There's nothing wrong in the world when you're laying on the gentle waves half asleep under the hot sun.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mantequilla de Cacahuete, anyone?

We've been having some squirrel issues with our neighbour, Cacahuete. Dana was helping me to look online for various solutions to the problem. A "Final Solution," if you will. Don't get me wrong, I like squirrels. I find them entertaining and clever. I never experienced them while growing-up, so it's a cute novelty for me. But in addition to plaguing my tomato plants by constantly digging them up (every morning, now, without fail), she went a bridge too far. She ate my mango tree. I'm sure you never knew that mango trees could grow in Canada. I didn't know either. I was surprised a few days ago to find one growing in my compost bin out of the mango remains I threw in there a few weeks ago, but there it was. Beautiful. Four or five leaves, growing out of the bone (that's what it's called in Spanish, don't know if it's actually a 'pit' or 'bone' in English, but I first learned the word in Mexico, so it sticks). I took it and gently planted it in its own pot, surrounded by decaying banana peels and rich soil. Only to find Cacahuete delicately eating the entire bone the next morning, happy as a clam and pretty as you please.

Anyway, below are some of the better suggestions I've found. I'm not interested in sprinkling fox urine powder on my balcony, and I'm sure our beneath neighbours are happy about that, too.

Paghat's Dozen Ways of Coping with Squirrels Harvesting All Your Cherries

1. Here's the main method: Pick the cherries very fast.

2. If there is no access to the tree via telephone wires or neighboring trees to jump from, usually a metal barrier too slippery to climb up from the ground is alone sufficient to stop their access. A two foot metal band wrapped around a tree six feet above the ground usually frustrates their access upward. Make the band removable so it won't be there as an unsightly thing once the harvest is done & can be reattached seasonally. But remember, if there are any swinging vines nearby, the squirrels will do little Tarzan yells & get access to the trees that way, so:

3. Trim limbs to be at least six feet, preferably eight feet, from any point the squirrels could jump from. At the very least you'll find out whether or not squirrels have wings.

4. Busy them with unshelled peanuts which they like even better than cherries, mixed with whole walnuts which they'll have trouble carting off to their stash more than one at a time. This might give you the extra few days needed to do the harvest before they do.

5. Grow only awful-tasting pie-cherries or chokecherries squirrels aren't as fond of.

6. Have a trained pet racoon sit in the tree.

7. Live-trap the squirrels & release them on the Island of Malta, then air-drop to the Maltese flyers containing the squirrel recipe from the Whitehouse Cookbook.

8. Smear peanut butter in globs on the limbs of some other trees where there's nothing to harvest. The squirrels will get peanut butter stuck to the roof of their mouth & in their cheek pouches. It totally screws up their harvesting techniques without harming them, but they'll never be able to resist the peanut butter even though it makes it impossible to gather up anything else for hours at a time while their little tongues are licking & licking & poking out over & over at full tilt.

9. Dogs prevent ground-access to trees & will keep the squirrels entertained teasing the dog.

10. Hang lots of bird feeders with all sorts of bird treats all over the place. Squirrels think they're awfully smart (& they're right) & love resolving how to get at different bird feeders. Also, mix this method with the peanut butter trick & the big whole walnuts trick. Squirrels have a sense of play & joyfulness & the harder you make it for them to get at the bird feeders, the less time they'll have left over for the cherries once the feeders are cleaned out. They will even wait until you or the dog are watching because they're complete show-offs.

11. Find the squirrels' multiple "dreys" or sloppy ball-nests made of twigs & leaves & newspapers bits & sun-faded Dixie Cups, then poke the nests to smithereens wherever they build or rebuild one. This will reduce you to a big meany, but the farther away they have to build their dreys to keep you from wrecking them, the more other stuff they will find to harvest on their way back to your cherry trees.

12. Join a squirrel watchers' club. They're not as common as birdwatching clubs, but they're pretty common. In the company of a bunch of squirrely squirrel lovers you will learn how useful squirrels are in the environment. Having these folks as your pals will be good for your ego when they start praising you for growing cherries just to feed the squirrels.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Today was another amazing day at church. Last week was awesome, but I don't think I wrote anything about it. I suppose I should go back to last week and take it from there.

Scott spoke about compassion--from Ecclesiastes 3, Isaiah 53, Isaiah 61, and Luke 4. It was really a great sermon. I was touched beyond words, really broken and basically just sitting there crying through all of it. The message just touched a lot of places near to my heart--doing something for all the people out there who are dying, suffering, in agony, oppressed, imprisoned, in despair.

My thoughts naturally wandered back towards that land called India. To a state called Andrah Pradesh, a city named Hyderabad, and the wee baby girls who have been abandoned in the hospital or in a garbage can or on the side of the road. The babies no one wants, who weren't asked for and weren't welcomed on the day of their birth. The girls who spend their earliest days in the arms of strangers and never know the love that carries on the sound waves of a mother's voice. And even as Scott spoke, my heart said: "I want to bring those girls home, love them, care for them, be their mother, show them compassion, give them a family, tell them every day how much they are wanted and needed and how they were conceived in God's heart before the first person stepped on the earth.

Today I suppose I came around full-circle and saw it from another perspective. I was talking after the service to a woman I first met last December, a friend of Laura (Sra. Padraig) who is visiting them for several weeks this summer. We spoke of a few things, and she congratulated me on getting my work visa (oh, and by the way, I got my work permit and the job search is on!). Then we talked about belonging, and feeling like I've found a home at last, somewhere God has placed me. She said something about preparing the soil so I can put my roots down--related directly to something God told me more than two years ago in Timor. And she talked about how I have pieces of my heart scattered all over the world--in India, Africa, Mexico, and all the other places I let into my life. And that somewhere on the inside, I have a bit of an orphan spirit--wondering where I belong and if these people will keep me and if I'll ever have a real home. If I'll ever feel like I fit.

There's healing for me. I thought it would be over night, as though all the bad things I picked up over the last several years would disappear as soon as I knew something was wrong. But I have to give it back to Jesus, always. All the pieces. And she told me that He holds all the pieces to my heart. They're not lost forever. There's restoration for me, too. And you, if you want it.

Here's a song I first heard while in Tanzania, written by Julie Miller, and the great version that I have is performed by Juliet Turner (a famous Irish singer, apparently).

You can have my heart
But it isn't new
It's been used and broken
And only comes in blue
It's been down a long road
And it got dirty on the way
If I give it to you,
Will you make it clean?
Wash the pain away?

You can have my heart
If you don't mind broken things
You can have my heart
If you don't mind these tears
But I heard that you make all things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it
You can have my heart.

So beyond repair
Nothing I could do
Tried to fix it myself
But it was only worse
When I got through

Then you walk right into my darkness
And you speak words so sweet
You hold me like a child
Feel my frozen tears fall at your feet.

You can have my heart
If you don't mind broken things.
You can have my heart
If you don't mind these tears.
But I heard that you make all things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it
You can have my heart.

So I mentioned Scott's sermon from two weeks ago, and he read from Isaiah 53 verses 3-7 or 8. Today I was looking at it again, and reread the last several verses which have been my life theme for several years, oddly enough. It's all beginning to make more sense, although I don't pretend to have the full revelation of it now (and probably not ever). Here we go (from the New Living):

53:10-12 But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honours of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed hjmself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

You decide which projects should be featured on now — only 1 day, 13 hours, 9 minutes, and 21 seconds left to go!

Check this site out, okay? It's really cool, but you have to go today because voting ends tomorrow! It's about donating play money to various organizations that are doing projects in the third world--everything from digging wells to health care to education and reforestation. I just did it after finding the link on Corena's blog.

Let's hop to it, mates!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Here's a picture taken last night of me and Faith snuggling during small group. She was two weeks old on Sunday.

Speaking of polar bears, you should go see An Inconvenient Truth. It talks about the unprecidented impact our generation (that means everyone who's alive now, not Gen X or whatever) has had on the environment. We might be the last people to see polar bears, because so much ice has melted in the Arctic. They've been finding polar bears that have drowned--because they've had to swim over 60 miles to find ice to get out of the water.

It was a really thought-provoking movie that I went to with Caroline. I wrote a really long, in-depth review on it last Thursday, which disappeared into the atmosphere because my internet disconnected itself before I hit the publish button, so it was all gone forever. :( No me gusta.

The long and short of it is, we have to change before we all fry to death. Because it's happening. The movie was full of facts and statistics that are likely to keep you up at night. Honestly, go see it. And then change what you're doing. Because urban crime rates and teen pregnancy and poverty won't matter if our planet gets too much hotter because it will be like Revelations. It IS the end times unless we change.

Park the car. Walk or bike instead. Convert to solar/wind/hydro energy instead of coal. Don't just sit there!

See the movie and then let me know what you thought about it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Incredible story

You absolutely have to read this; I don't care who you are. It won't take five minutes of your time. Just read it:

At Her Feet

Some News from Hyderabad

30 June, 2006
Sisters of Mother Teresa imprisoned on proselytism charges
by Nirmala Carvalho

The four Missionaries of Charity were harassed and imprisoned on proselytism and conversion charges. The archbishop of Hyderabad told AsiaNews about their complete dedication to the poor and called for an in-depth inquiry into what happened.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – A crowd of Hindu fanatics set upon four sisters of Mother Teresa in a hospital and had them arrested by local police on charges of proselytism and conversion of the sick.

Archbishop Oswald Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India told AsiaNews: “This tragic attack on the nuns of Mother Teresa is shocking and has to be condemned in the strongest terms. This is all the more so because these nuns are known all over the world for their altruism and dedication to the poor.”

The four Missionaries of Charity were attacked on 25 June as they went about their weekly visit in a hospital in the city of Tirupati – a Hindu pilgrimage place – in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The four sisters, all aged around 35, were in the government hospital of Ruia, where they usually spend time with patients who are terminally with AIDS. A group of around 50 fanatics of the Hindu Dharma Parirakshana Samithi [group for the defence of the Hindu religion] broke into the hospital, blocked the four sisters and accused them of trying to convert patients.

The crowd swelled rapidly and soon there were around 300 people. They forced the sisters to remain in the hospital until 8.30pm. Then police officials arrived and took the women to the local police station.

Mgr Marampudi Joji, Metropolitan Archbishop of Hyderabad, told AsiaNews: “The sisters have official government permission to do visit the wards, which they have done every Sunday for the past 20 years. The sisters, in agreement with the hospital administration, have welcomed these dying patients into their homes, where they can die surrounded by dignity and love.”

He continued: “As soon as I heard the news, I immediately called the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, and the Director General of Police, S. Sen, both of them Christians. I rushed to the prison, where I managed to get the sisters released at 10.30 pm.

“The nuns were terrified and trembling because of the climate of intimidation all around the police station. The police even defied a Supreme Court directive that women should not be taken into custody between sunset and sunrise.”

This morning, the archbishop lead a delegation of the sisters, accompanied by a representative from the Mother House in Kolkata, to the Police Chief, to show him their permits to visit the sick. Despite all the assurances received, Mgr Joji said a rally was staged in the city streets by Hindutva ideology adherents to demand that the nuns be arrested for “propagation of faith and conversions”. Mgr Joji said: “In Andhra Pradesh, there is no anti conversion law, and Article 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees everyone the right and the freedom to preach, practice and propagate her religion. As Christians, we forgive our aggressors, but as Metropolitan Archbishop, I have the duty to protect the faith and its witnesses. Hence, I have appealed to our Chief Minister to investigate this atrocity and to arrest the culprits.”

Mgr Gracias said: “The allegations of conversions are utterly baseless and unjust. This act reveals not only bigotry on the part of those who committed it, but also ignorance of the needs of the poor.” He added: “I emphatically state that no religious congregation indulges in conversions and Mother Teresa sisters are known to be doing exclusively social work, hence there is absolutely no room for misunderstanding on this point.”

Taken from:

(For those of you wondering why I posted this, it's because Hyderabad is where I used to live in India. I found this article while looking for some other information.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy America Day!

To celebrate my birth country's 230th year of declaring itself independant from its mother country, I'm going to the optometrist. If anyone wants to stop by my house later tonight to celebrate with me by singing a rousing chorus of the Star-Spangled Banner, feel free! Jason's working, so all the festivities are up to me. :) We'll probably watch such American propaganda as The Patriot or We Were Soldiers or Where the Heart Is (that counts as propaganda because she names her daughter Americus).