Monday, August 31, 2009

Promised Pictures

We went camping over the weekend to Elk Island National Park. Biruk took a nap and I went for a walk towards the beach. I saw the most beautiful sunset as it set behind one of the small islands out in the lake.
I took nearly 30 photos of this sunset!

But can you blame me? It was so beautiful!

I can't decide which sunset photo I like the best...

I call this one "alive" because there is just the one (true, two or three in the very background) that is alive, surrounded by all the dead flowers

I love this hammock! It was a Christmas present, which I've got plenty of use out of.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New home

I found my apartment.
No, not the one I first mentioned. I did like that one, but it was taken up in a flash before I got a chance to grab it.
So I kept looking. Housing here is expensive. Almost all the apartments within my budget were in 'the ghetto'. One place required a criminal record check along with the application.
The prices for housing here are pretty steep. It wouldn't be hard to find a 1 bedroom for 1400. Actually, that might be hard to find, as people will be willing to pay that much and be renting them!
Bachelor suites for nearly 1000? Seriously? Seriously.

It's an adorable suite in the second floor of a 100-some year old house in Little Italy. The landlord assured me that the area was pretty safe, as the Italian mafia run the nearby grocery store and try to keep their neighborhood clean and safe.

It has two bedrooms. Biruk calls the one 'storage space' (I don't think it's that small.)
And a bathtub! (I looked at a bachelor suite that was, not to mention way more expensive for it being so much smaller, but it had only a shower; that was the second turn off, after the price- nearly $800 Canadian per month).

Biruk doesn't like it, but as I remind him; I don't really like Canada, yet I'm here. So he can deal with being there for a few months if I can deal with being in Canada for a few years! I think he's already beginning to warm up to it.
I said he didn't have to visit me there, but I don't like the apartment where he lives, either. And if he wanted me to occasionally make him dinner, then he would have to come to my apartment. He consented. I'm telling you, he is gonna warm up to this place! (or am I just thinking that if I say it enough, it will be true?).

It's time I settled down. I was telling Biruk that if I don't settle down and stay in one place for a few years soon, really soon, that I will probably develop some problem where I can't stay in one location longer than 6 months. So, it's good that I'm gonna be here, make a home. It's exciting right now, but I'm also nervous about staying in one place for so long.
But, for the past two weeks something wonderful has happened; I haven't missed Biruk! Well, while he's at work I miss him, but it's not nearly as intense. It's been great to see him and spend time with him and not miss him!
But we're still in that blissful state; enthralled to just not miss one another. It's allowed us to really cherish spending time together and see one another.

We're hoping to go camping this weekend and I'm hoping to go on a photography spree and have plenty of pictures to show!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I should probably start from behind and work my way forward.

My day with K---- was good. K----'s brother was killed just before Christmas (I posted about it). Most people know or can recognize the steps of grief, but it can take 3 years to finish grieving- and that's a healthy grief, even if that sounds like an oxymoron. So, he's still sad. There were some times, while we were hanging out that he would grow quiet and and pull his shirt up all weird to cover his face.

We cleaned his car and sat on the steps outside his cousin's apartment, as K---- was 'apartment sitting'. Finally, he told my why he didn't invite me in. "They are smoking weed up there and I don't want you to have to be around that."

That made me laugh.

Then, he asked if I had my license as his was suspended. His friend needed a ride home in time for curfew. Sure, I want to support people upholding their curfew, right? However, I had a few questions about the car.

Before I said a word, K--- either read my face, or knows me that well; "You don't have to worry about driving this car. It's legit. I bought it from my uncle, it is insured. This isn't a drug car. My kid rides in this car."

Not entirely true. I've seen this car, been in this car before. With a different driver. But, K--- might not have known about that, as he was not present.

On the drive back, he was talking to his cousin on the phone. In mid-conversation he turns to me.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure, anything."

"Why are you driving so slow?"

I don't like driving fast! and I was only going 5 (maybe 10) under the speed limit- everyone else was just speeding!

Camp was good. I have been helping for a week at summer camp since I was about 12 years old. The all girls' camp I helped with had a younger group. Almost all the girls were raised in a Christian home, and followed all the rules.

You'd never get disrespected, let alone cussed out by a camper. You would never need to physically restrain anyone or be locked out by a camper.

This camp was very different.

It was an older group, co-ed with inner-city Canadian kids.

First off, I can't think of a single camper who brought a Bible. The camp brought a lot of Bibles, New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. The first chapel time, the speaker spoke from 1 Samuel. No one could follow along.

Some of the campers weren't sure they believed in God, if God existed or if they wanted a relationship with him. One of my campers had no background at all, during a private time together I realized she knew practically nothing about Jesus.

Then there was the last night, when several of the campers had new boyfriends or girlfriends. So I had to station obstacles at the door so that they couldn't sneak out in the middle of the night.

One of my campers ran away and after searching for nearly an hour, we found her- off camp property and refusing to speak. While I was wondering through the woods, I remembered the story of the Good Shepherd. It would be easier to go back to chapel with my other campers, and hope that in frustration she would just come back or show up for the fun event we were having later.
My other campers needed me, too. And the other counselors needed me to help control my campers. And my co-counselor needed me.
It's probably not nearly the same thing, but the story came to mind as I wandered through the darkening woods, calling her name.

Then, we sat in silence, while she occasionally wrote on a rock. I got cold, very cold. 9 pm in Manitoba with the sun setting, sitting beside the water- means misquitoes, lots of them! I'm cold and being eaten by misquitoes and she won't tell my why she ran away, why she is upset, why she wants to go back, or what I can do to help. She won't say a word!
After 15 minutes of complete silence, I started to talk. And talk. and talk.
I talked about my life. I talked about travels. I talked about people who I admire. It was on this topic that I mentioned a man I know who is a hero, who also happens to be a Muslim.
Suddenly I heard a voice; "What's a Muslim?".
I answered, and she spoke again! And we had a slow conversation.

And I was able to share the Gospel, the Good News, with several campers.
The Good News that it is through Jesus that we are healed, not by scarring ourselves. The Good News that it is through Jesus we have hope for life, and hope to change. He makes everything new; he can renew us. The Good News that Jesus forgave us of all our sins, all of them.

I took a camper for a walk at nearly midnight. Her boyfriend had died about a year and a half ago. He had actually been my neighbor, and was shot through the eye with a pellet gun, which traveled to his brain and killed him. She was still struggling with that, still. My two co-counselors and I discussed God's hand in putting her in our cabin. One of my co-counselors' boyfriends had died two years ago while they were still dating. And another had lost her mother a few months ago. And I had known her boyfriend. Forgiveness, forgiving herself was a main topic. And then I left her, I walked up the hill and I let her be alone with God for a little while. The girl who walked back up the hill was not the same one who walked down it. All week, she was a different person.

There are other stories, too. Despite not having full Bibles, and some never using a Bible all week. Despite entering without understanding about God or Jesus, or not believing in Him; God moved. And I saw God moving in the lives of each of my campers.

It was hard. But it was good.

Now, I'm in Edmonton. The weather is great- warm and sunny. I'm looking for an apartment, so please keep that in your prayers. I found a nice one, a good deal, too. $650 per month, one bedroom with a balcony! 10 min walk from Biruk's apartment. I am looking at a bachelor this afternoon, for $725 per month- a bachelor, and it's not in a good area, either.
However, there is a whole process to go through, and I hope I can snag this one before someone else does.
And then I get to furnish the apartment. Biruk's roommate has an extra bed I can use until I find something else. But other than that I have no furniture, not a cup or a plate or a pan to cook in.
I'm not a fan of shoe shopping, and clothing shopping makes me tired. But I love searching stores to decorate my own place. Even expensive places that I could never afford I run into to get ideas from. And then Goodwill is my hero with the funky vases and unique serving bowls.
And as I look at the horrible gold-colored florally curtains in the apartment I am currently in, I remind myself that I am going to buy cloth and make my own curtains.

Biruk's family is coming up here this weekend, so I will get to spend time with them. Please keep them in your prayers; his mother has to have surgery to remove cancer in a gland in her neck (I think it's thyroid cancer, but Biruk wasn't sure). She'll be off work for a while because of the surgery, and besides Biruk sending them money, she is the breadwinner of their family. I'm not sure if she will recieve any assistance while she is off work for her surgery.

We're looking for our plane tickets to Ethiopia. I have to apply for an extension to remain in Canada, since the visa I am on now expires the end of this month and I don't plan to leave until December some time. But, there really isn't any incentive for me to leave Canada- I am studying online and I don't have children or property in the USA to be responsible for back there. So I need to show someway that I will actually leave Canada when I say I will. So, I'm going to show proof of my trip to Ethiopia to show that I do intend to leave Canada. But, I need to apply for that extension soon, so we need to get those tickets soon, too! Plus, December will be here before we know it.

New Address: Somewhere in Edmonton. Hopefully, I'll have a real address within a few weeks.