Thank You

It has been a long school year and a lot has happened. I got engaged. We had some health stuff. We both had a full course load, and then some, each term. I have been working part time. And then there was the church field placement.

Twelve to fifteen hours per week. In a church. Doing stuff.

What that “stuff” was varied each week: preaching, proclaiming the word, leading parts of the liturgy, searching around for my supervisor’s reading glasses (where the heck did he leave them this week?!?), home and hospital visiting, assisting at a funeral, drinking beer at the pub while leading a bible study… the list goes on.

What did not vary each week was the love and support of that church community. St Andrew Memorial Anglican Church: Thank you.

Thank you for being a welcoming community.

Thank you for opening yourselves to me and letting me be myself amongst you.

Thank you for welcoming my partner as warmly as you welcomed me, even though he worships at another church as a part of his field placement.

Thank you for letting me learn without judgement.

Thank you for being a community where it has been okay for me to try and not be perfect.

Thank you for your encouragement, your laughter, your enthusiasm, your chocolate, and your joy.

Thank you for being a community that loves fellowship and food.

Thank you for your heart for worshipping God.

Thank you for loving me.

I have learned a lot from you, with you, and because of you. As Pastor Marty said at my last service with you, a piece of your community will come back to BC with me and will always be a part of my ministry.

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Ride for Refuge

Tomorrow I and about 30 others across Canada will be participating in the Ride for Refuge to raise money for the work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund in the South Sudan.

The weather is supposed to suck tomorrow: 10 degrees, wind, and rain. Good thing I have waterproof bike gloves from living in Victoria. But, as a PWRDF friend said, biking in crappy weather is still better than what many refugees go through on a daily basis.

I’m a little slow in promoting this, but if you’d like to support me and my team here in London, you can donate to us here. The best part is that this is a Canadian Foodgrains Bank project, so all money donated is matched 4x by the Federal Government. As of right now, PWRDF riders and supporters have raised over $11,000 – which is pretty exciting.

Yesterday the Anglican Journal published an article about those of us riding. I’m still a little bummed they didn’t quote me, but it does give a good overview of what we are doing.

Second Year

Second year of seminary started this week and did it ever start with a bang!

As a part of the executive of the theological students society (Bishop Hallam Theological Society, or BHTS, to be exact), I was involved in running the student orientation this year. On Tuesday and Wednesday we welcomed at least a dozen new students from across the country into our MDiv and MTS programs, helped orient them to the program, to the campus, to the courses, and to the city. It was capped by a social event on Wednesday before diving right back into Morning Prayer services and courses on Thursday.

Unlike last year when I had a slow welcome to school and chapel life, I was right back into it this year with designing and leading morning prayer on Wednesday, singing a canticle at morning prayer on Thursday, and reading the lessons for morning prayer on Friday. It is weird to be right back into it, but with half of the cantors graduating last year, I’ll be involved a fair bit until first year students join the roster, I think.

I’ve only experienced two of five courses for the term thus far: “Theology and Religious Pluralism” and “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible II.” Next week sees the first class of Homiletics, Field Education, and Congregational Development. It seems an interesting mix of theological and practical courses. Just in time too: I will be spending 10-12 hours each week at St Andrew Memorial Anglican Church here in London. I’ll be working with the priest, Marty Levesque, to learn and practice some of the practical parts of being a priest – preaching, leading on Sunday morning, taking part in some of the various weekday activities of the parish.

This year will be incredibly different from last year. It will be a good year with its share of challenges, but it will be a year of learning, of laughter, of love, and of life.

One Year

One year ago this weekend I finalized the pack-up of my life in Victoria and got on a ferry for a few days in Vancouver, before flying to Ontario to start a whole new chapter.

A whole new chapter? Yes, I suppose it was, though the chapter has been just one in a journey of many that started with the first conversation I had, out loud, pondering a call to ordained ministry as a priest.

The last year has had lots of new adventures. I’ve been exploring a new city and region and re-exploring the province of my birth. I’ve been within spitting distance of extended family members who I haven’t lived near in 20 years.

I have started the seminary journey, completing first year (with top grades in the class!) and have begun to lay the foundations for my field placement for this upcoming year. Lots of new friends have joined me on this journey, some who I know I will have for the rest of my life.

I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador, participating as an international elections observer and witnessing the human rights and development work done by PWRDF partner the Cristosal Foundation.

And there are more adventures to come! Later this month I will be experiencing the Stratford Festival for the first time! Then, I head to Turkey with a group from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. I continue to work with the theological society to plan orientation for this upcoming year of school. Second year classes begin in a little over a month (eeek!) and I’ll be starting my field placement at a local Anglican church.

Southwestern Ontario is a far cry from Vancouver Island,  but it is beautiful country with wonderful people, and more things to learn and places to explore.

Here is to year two in Ontario!

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Thunderstorms

I enjoy a good thunderstorm. When I was a kid, I would sit on Dad’s lap on the large wrap-around front porch of our home in southeastern Ontario. We would listen to the thunder and smell the rain as it pounded down around us.

Storm over the Trans-Kalahari Highway

Thunderstorm over the Trans-Kalahari Highway, 2012

Ten years on Vancouver Island meant ten years with thunderstorms being few and far between. A thunderstorm is an event there: one crack of thunder or one lightning flash sees all taking to twitter: “was that thunder?” or “did anyone else see that lightning in downtown #yyj?” It just doesn’t happen very often at all. For a city surrounded by water, thats not a bad thing. I would not want to be on a sailboat with a tall mast in the middle of a thunder storm.

One memorable night in the Solomon Islands, the Pacific Grace was surrounded by lightning. We had to turn off all of our electronic equipment to ensure it wasn’t destroyed if we were struck. (See Offshore Documentary, part 2, starting about the 2:30 minute mark for the footage.) It was a little unsettling to be in the midst of it, but also an amazing reminder of the power of nature.

Driving into a storm, southwestern Ontario, 2014

Driving into a storm, southwestern Ontario, 2014

We’ve had a lot of storms in southwestern Ontario over the last week. Sunday, after church (and after the Dutch beat the Mexicans in World Cup action), Matthew and I drove up to Lake Huron. We were hoping for some beach time and, since we’re about equal distance between Lake Erie and Lake Huron, we can pick and choose where we want to explore each time! This time it was Huron’s turn. It was a beautiful blue day when we set out. Soon, we noticed an ominous cloud towards the Lake. Then, the wind began to pick up. Next, I saw several bolts of lightning streaking down towards the ground (Matthew was being a safe driver and watching the road so he missed them). Pretty soon we were in the middle of the storm. The rain was coming down so hard that we nearly pulled over to wait for better visibility.

Lake Huron, 2014

Lake Huron, 2014

Then, just like that, the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and we were at the beach to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Yesterday was another one of those days. I was nearly caught in three torrential downpours whilst cycling around town. After missing the first, a London Hydro employee encouraged me to buy a lottery ticket…I guess that first deluge was a big one! It intrigues me how localized the weather systems are in London. While I could see that there was a magnificently dark cloud over part of the city yesterday, I couldn’t tell that it was raining elsewhere. While I smelt the rain when I got to a different part of the city, and witnessed the second downpour from the safety of my favourite coffee shop in town, I have no idea if it rained a third time in a different part of the city. One neighbourhood: bone dry. Six blocks away: rivers in the street from the rainfall.

One thing is for certain: thunderstorms are fun to listen to, but I’m glad I haven’t been caught outside in one yet!

Summer

The thing about writing is that, if you don’t do it, you can’t do it.

It seems strange to think about losing the practice of writing. After all, over the course of a year in school, tens of thousands of words and hundreds of pages of writing are produced.

But it is different.

The writing was accomplished as spring was bypassed in the abrupt shift from winter to summer. The term ended and a sigh was released as the flowers gradually began to show their faces above the dirt.

Summer.

Summer is fully upon us: Yesterday was 35 degrees and today will likely be much like it.

Summer is long days and the possibility for adventure. Interspersed between sporadic shifts at work – the life of relief staff – have been trips here and there. First to Toronto to spend some time with an aunt and being treated to an afternoon on the water.

IMG_1145Lake Ontario. It isn’t an ocean but it seems as vast from the shoreline. However it lacks the smell of the Pacific, that smell of salt and seaweed and sea creatures stuck on ancient rocks as they are bashed by waves. It is also conspicuously lacking tides, something strangely disconcerting to one used to charting their shifting movements. There was something distinctly tropical about its look at the end of May.

IMG_1165Then it was off to Sarnia and visiting aunts, uncle, and cousin. Theatre, rummage sales, and art shows. Boardgames and barbecue.

Meanwhile in London it is dinner, pastries, coffee, beer, spontaneous conversations, and so much more with godparents and family.

One of the joys of remaining in Ontario throughout the summer is the proximity of people I haven’t spent enough time with over the years. When filling out my tax return this year, I had to detail the distance between old address and new school versus new address and new school. I discovered that I have moved over 4200km – that is if I were taking the shortest route through the northern United States – and it would take me about 41 hours to drive.

So I’ll look forward to the visits when they come and enjoy the novelty that is summer in southwestern Ontario.

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