Journal #8

Posted December 1, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

                November 7, 2009: What a great day to drive to Marmora for a one day event, “ALL ARE WELCOME”.  It was a two hour drive from Portland, but worth every second of it. I am glad we did not take Highway 401 and went through the back roads (Hwy. 7). The experience of driving on “new” mountainous roads is always intimidating at first, but it is worth it at the end. Isn’t it always like that in everything we do? I do not know about you, but before I take a step to do something for the first time, I am anxious, because of the unknown. Most of the time, however, at the end, we realize how valuable it was to get out of our comfort zone and do the task ahead of us. 

                Early in the morning (6:55 a.m.), Gary and I left the apartment and drove through the winding roads of Westport, Sharbot Lake and other beautiful places. Passing through gorgeous hills and valleys; bodies of water; such as, Fall River, Silver Lake, Salmon River and many others. The dawning of the day was incredibly serene and peaceful. On one of the curves of CR – 36, we actually saw a beautiful deer behind barren trees standing on green, luscious grass that had invited this creature to come and eat from this banquet table which God had prepared. I reversed the car. Yes, for those of you who have not had the privilege to experience my driving, I do back up a lot if there is something amazing to see, given there are no cars behind me of course. I wanted to make sure Gary would also see this gracious animal. Yes, we stopped for a few minutes and admired this beautiful being. The deer was also looking at us and wondering why we were staring, like kids in front of a candy store. God has truly created everything beautifully and has harmoniously put together unimaginable beauty. I started to “tell” the deer to run and hide, as it is deer hunting season here.   

                Yes, it is deer hunting season around here, and this disturbs me a bit, but I am told that this helps control the animal population, etc. Are these excuses justifications to our (human) actions, or is it really necessary? The more I see or hear how we human beings treat each other, the animal kingdom and the environment, the more I am convinced that hunger for power and glory is nothing but poison and destruction. I remember my father telling me when I was just a little girl: “My daughter, the most voracious animal is the human being”. I am able to understand this phrase a little bit better now that I am older. I think my Dad’s words were not only regarding physical actions taken, but also referring to the attitudes of “know it all”. We have created barriers to segregate and separate; to isolate and detach. All who do not fit the mould of what is expected are cut off and forgotten.  

                Nature is beautiful and perfectly put together, but we do not take time to take care of it. We are too involved in satisfying our selfish desires, digging deeper for gold, oil, and money making schemes. We are too busy stealing from one another that we do not realize that we are actually stealing from ourselves. The greed of humanity and hunger for more power has brought the world into predicaments on different levels, which we are facing at this present time.  From family feuds to world conflicts. From disrespecting adults to neglecting youths. From selfish desires to empty promises. How many more warnings do we need to stop and take care of ALL?

                The sun was beginning to be more prominent and the shadows of the night were beginning to dissipate. The fresh dew on the grass, the trees and the rocks was like a humble servant waiting to be taken away to another place, to serve once again the next morning. Quenching the thirst of the earth and all that lives in it. New drops of grace, waiting to fall upon all living the next morning. The reflection of the beautiful white clouds are visible now on the lakes. This makes my heart sing praise to the Creator who has given us such gifts. The huge Spruce trees all lined up on the side of the highway, as if praising God and yet waiting in patience to be adorned by snow. No, snow has not arrived yet, but once in a while you feel the knocking at the door. But who can believe, the weather today is expected to go to 19 degrees (Celsius).

                The little towns we passed through were just amazing. Of course some are so tiny that if you’d blink, you’d miss them. But there are communities in these places who keep these towns vibrant and alive. No one is aware of what life is in these towns unless they would go and break bread with the people and get to know them. Isn’t that always the case? We can judge people from the outside, but things are different when you get involved and get to know the other. This reminds me of the pastoral charge that I am involved with right now. They have truly surprised me on how busy they are in their ministries and involved to reach out to the community. When I thought of Rural Churches, at the time of my internship application, I thought all will be quiet and I would get bored – I was wrong.  

                We arrived at St. Andrew’s United Church in Marmora. The morning worship was great and the rest of the day was amazing too. I learnt a few things which I think are important to all Christians. The major lesson, which came out of this day for me is: If we are Christians and following Christ’s ministry here and now why do we still have the words “us” and “them” in our vocabulary? We are all the same. We need to listen to every one’s story and embark together on this journey to help, embrace and Love.    

                There is no “us” and “them” when we talk about individuals and the differences we each bring. Jesus never judged anyone. He never talked about sexual orientation. Jesus’ only preoccupation was the person’s heart. Jesus’ message to all was and still is: Love God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. Who is my neighbour? My neighbour is every single human being on earth. My sister, my brother, my parents, my friends, my next door neighbour, my classmate, etc… Jesus lived a life that was “transparent” to allow God’s love to shine through him; therefore, I need to be transparent so that God can be seen in my life – ALIVE.  

                To be Christian means to be a follower of Christ Jesus, who loved all immensely, lifted the lowly incalculably and gave it all unendingly. Following in his footsteps requires peeling away the self and putting on LOVE. Try to put your own wants and desires for more power and glory on the side for one day, and see the transformation we can bring forth for the entire world, one person at a time. Attempt to bring heaven to earth – Begin now.

Journal # 7

Posted November 14, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

October 11, 2009: TAHNKSGIVING.  I can easily say, “This year the meaning of Thanksgiving took an entirely different perception, a reflective and a fulfilling one”. This year, it was not about who is coming over for supper or where we can plan to go for some R. & R. It was about being thankful from the heart for what I have. Fulfillment of the heart and not the stomach.  

            After 15 days of not seeing Gary, he arrived back in Portland on October 8th, which made my Thanksgiving week-end begin even earlier.

            As I begin to write this journal, I am reminded of the very first time I was introduced to this holiday called Thanksgiving. It was in Orange County, California, November of 1983 (American Thanksgiving). I remember it was also the same time I learnt about hugs. When I had extended my hand to shake the hand of the lady whose house we were visiting, she said, “In America we do not shake hands, we give hugs”. Twenty six years ago, I thought that was such a weird thing to do, now I am the queen of hugs – I think hugs are therapeutic and wonderful…   

            In California, Thanksgiving seemed to be about stuffing turkey and mashing potatoes and adding all the trimmings – just like everywhere else where Thanksgiving is celebrated. In Quebec, as the years passed, I started to become more aware about the harvest and celebrating God’s abundance. Hence, being thankful for all the abundance that we have and take action to do something about those who do not have enough. Now, 23 years later, I actually got to see the harvest bursting at the seams of the fields. In “my backyard”, farmers working tirelessly; pumpkin patches raging with color; corn hiding in the husks; and the golden fields glistening  the countryside. What beauty, what splendour!

            All this abundance sparked in me the desire to make pumpkin and zucchini breads. I did not want to waste the pumpkin I had used for “show and tell” at church on October 4th. I took advantage of the knowledge all around me and asked, “How can I cook a pumpkin to make it ready for use in a bread mix”. The response was wonderful, so, I chose the easiest way to cook the pumpkin and make bread. So it was, all systems go.  On Saturday evening (October 10), Gary and I started to make a recipe (from the internet), which continued into another batch and another. We baked pass midnight. It was fun and most of all meaningful. From fresh pumpkins and zucchinis; flour and eggs; we got these freshly baked breads. What a gift, what a memory. I think, school had kept me too busy over the past four years to be able to have fun like this. 

            Another element that was an addition to this year’s Thanksgiving was a Baptism that I was part of in the pastoral charge. When I say, “part of” I do not mean that I did anything big at the time of the Baptism itself,  but I was involved in getting to know the child and the parents from the first day I walked into the church. It is over a month now that I have gotten to know them and this has been a great joy. To be part their journey and them becoming part of mine. The Parents, and the Godparents alike declaring their commitment to bring up this child in Christian Faith. Committing, claiming, and celebrating –  this is Baptism. The community where the child is baptized, also promises to help raise this child with the same values of this intention. After all, it does take a village to raise a child not just one family.           

            The Baptism was great and the baby was not bothered by anything at all… She was right at home. After the worship service, the plan went forward, Gary and I left for Laval (Montreal). I wanted to take advantage of the long week-end and spend some time back home. This was my first time going back since I moved here. My in-laws invited my sister for supper to surprise her with my visit. When Gary and I arrived home, she was already there. It worked. All her neighbours and friends were in this conspiracy, but she only suspected something was up when she arrived and saw that daddy had the big table set for five people and she asked, “why 5 places daddy?”  

            After an amazing supper that dad and mom had planned and prepared, Gary and I decided to take Maya for a walk. My arm was in Gary’s arm as Maya was pulling both of us. We were walking through the streets when an overwhelming joy of fulfillment took over my whole being. Tears filled my eyes as I told Gary, “This is the Best Thanksgiving Ever honey, thank God and thank you”.

            What a paradox. It is one of the hardest times in our lives that we are going through, but yet it is the best Thanksgiving ever.  Gary and I always said that when the time comes and ordination takes place, in 2011, he would quit his job so that we can settle wherever the church sends us. Half of our plans went fast forward without our consent – Gary’s job was terminated in July, and I still need two years to complete my program. This seems like a cruel joke. On top of it all, we need to live apart for eight months. How can I be part of a relationship where my partner needs me the most but yet I leave and move away to do internship?

            I think, paradox must become our friend in times like these. Particularly when we are facing the unknown head on. Bill payments and lack of finances create stressful environment around us but how can we see the opposite of that? Only through God’s grace. We must find it, it is there for the accepting. For every descent there is an ascent. God says, “I am with you”. People in the community, the pastoral charge have truly become the family who lifts me up. Every time I receive an encouraging e-mail, a phone call or a personal comment from a congregant or even strangers who just visit the church, make my joy overflow. They remind me that our work is not in vain. God’s grace is at work. There is no dollar value to attached to that. Our commitment to our Creator, the Sheppard of our Hearts is not in vain. Even when we are in the valley with different stressing issues, our needs are met. The luscious green grass is abundant in the valleys where we are found. We need to stop longing to be on the top of the mountain and look down to see that all that we need is right in front of us. 

            I pray that your Thanksgiving 2009 was a great one and that you are able to TRULY keep that momentum going throughout your daily life and thank God for the air you breathe, the commotion you hear, the spiders you see, the food you taste, and a hand you hold or a hug you get. Find fulfillment in the simplest things of life, because Grace is simple and free. Allow the author of life work in you, through you and mould you into the heart of Jesus to make a difference in this world. Become to others what you want others to become for you. AMEN.

Journal # 6

Posted October 21, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

October 5: “No, is an anointed word”. I had heard this phrase about two years ago at UTC (United Theological College), but I never grasped fully what it meant and never knew how it feels to apply it in my life, until today. I always wondered why “No”, is considered an anointed word. I think I understand it now. If “No” is used in the right situation, “No” keeps us sane.

            Never thought I would use it. But I did today and it felt right.  Yes, I actually said “NO”, to something I was asked at the council meeting. My answer was “No”, because today I understood what it means to respond to emergencies in ministry. On my day off I was going to visit people who had lost a loved friend and turn my “Sabbath” into a working day. (Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining. I will substitute the time off on another day. I am attempting to help you see what shape I was in). After a very long but amazing day on Sunday (4th of October), my resting days were becoming working days. I was starting to feel the overwhelming power of stress. The time off seemed getting fuller by the minute, busier than regular working days. We needed to go to the Funeral home to visit the people who were friends of the person who passed away and also take care of the funeral service, and still prepare the weekly Bible Study, Sunday worship, etc., etc…   Hence, everything else needed to go on hold.

            As much as it was very appealing to join the task force, which the council was putting together, to go through the members’ list of the church and contact everyone and re-connect the bridges of relationships. Advising and asking people that they are still considered members of this church, but did they consider themselves members? Also this would be an opportunity to remind them that the church cares for them and they have the support of the community whenever they need it. But, my plate was full with goals, daily tasks and now emergencies, which are all part of minister’s life. I had to say, “No” for the sake of staying sane and healthy.  I would have loved to be part of this project, but I need to focus on the goals that I have set before me and stay well to complete them. One month has already flown by and what a great month it has been. My aim is to keep it GREAT not just for me, but for all around me.

            As much as it was hard to say “No”, as I live for projects such as this. To “GO” and look for the people who the church has lost touch with. I guess, the missionary lifestyle, which is imbedded in me since childhood, plays a big role in this. I have experienced missionaries visit us in Beirut, Lebanon and extend the love of God by words of kindness, and deeds of care. Or maybe it is the customer care jobs that I have had since 1987 and direct sales experiences that I have shared with people since 1992. These experiences have taught me not to be afraid to offer people care. What is the worst response that I would hear them say, “No”? Then, we let it be and continue on the journey. 

            I know that people move, or go through changes in their lives making Sunday morning worship hard to fit in their schedules. However, we can let them know about the other services that the church offers. Another reason that people stay away from church, which I can relate to is; people get annoyed by someone or something that happens at church and decide to stay away. I remember staying away from the church in my 20’s because of crazy reasons. Now, when I think back, I laugh, because the reasons seem so miniscule. Whenever I got attitude from someone, in return I would stay away from that church. However, if the church we are part of is truly following the example of Jesus, welcoming everyone and making a difference in this world, then we are the ones losing out on nourishing our souls and rejuvenating our spirits, by staying away. If we think that we are hurting those who hurt us by staying away from the church, think again. We actually are hurting our own spirit’s growth by reacting this way.

            Remember that  the center of the word “church” is “U”, “R”. This echoes in my heart and reminds me that church is not the building that we take care of and hold on to, but  church is the “body of Christ” to which YOU ARE a part of. We gather in the building because we need a place to accommodate our needs of finding enough room for ALL and building strong community. As people of God in this journey of faith we gather with our families, friends, neighbours and strangers and become a FAMILY. This place is to serve our needs and not the opposite. Do not get me wrong, we need to take care of the building and not let the buildings crumble, but how obsessed are we sometimes in holding the building closer to our hearts than Jesus’ mission?   

            I would like to leave you with this question today: Where is Church in your life? Where are You in the life of the Church? And I do not mean, which pew do you sit on.  Are you away because someone told you, “You are sitting in my spot, please move”, or “You sing too loud, I need to sit a bit far from you”? Yes, these two comments were actually  said to me in the past and if I had stayed away from the church where these were uttered, I would have missed out on this amazing journey of ministry that God has brought me to. If you are feeling upset or hurt, approach your minister and ask for a “visit”. Open up your heart to God first and then to your minister and be ready to embrace a radical life of Grace, which is so worth it. It is your decision to get out of where you are stuck, but youa re not alone. Your minister can walk with you on this journey and extend a helping hand. No other person can change your mind and no minister has a magic wand to make you feel better in a moment’s notice – Ministers do care, BUT You have to decide to let it go YOURSELF.

             I have and still am learning that this life is not about “ME”, but it is about making a difference in the greater plans of God. God has loved you before you were born; still loves you in the present time, accept the gift of God. And no matter what people say or do to you God promises to love you eternally. Would you trust this Loving God who heals and mends the broken heart?

Journal #5

Posted October 7, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

September 27: Today was my covenanting service at the pastoral charge – that means, two separate covenanting services – Portland (9:30 a.m.) and Elgin (11:00 a.m.). Covenanting service is a service of promise – similar to a marriage. It is a promise between two parties – one promises to serve, as God is their helper and the other promises to support as God is their helper. Covenanting services are done in many different aspects of the church. An example of this is when a minister answers the call and arrives at a new charge. A covenanting service takes place between the minister and the entire congregation. In the same token, the LST (Lay Supervision Team), the ministers involved and the intern do this covenant. But after all, it is a covenant with the entire congregation, because without their spiritual and financial support this internship cannot take place. This covenanting service is done once for the duration that is needed. However, there are also covenanting services that are done annually, between the church and council members; Sunday school teachers, students; the choir and the music directors. I have been present to covenanting services before. I have also participated in doing presentations and always thought they were good, but never thought they can be so moving. I realized why rituals are good for us. Rituals, such as covenanting service, make the imagined tangible and hold us accountable to our actions. At the early worship service, we got the covenanting done between the LST, minister and I. Afterwards the Sunday school kids came to the front with the teachers and made a big circle around me as a sign of support and did their promise in front of God. The same promises were made between the choir and the director. Afterwards the minister prayed, as everyone except the choir stood around me and embraced me with their love. After that, as a gift to the congregation, and as prayers for the people, I sang a medley, “How Great Thou Art” and “It Is Well With My Soul”. It went well – Thank God. So we rushed to the second service. The same things took place there also, but here, my supervising minister was present also (this was such a gift. I know how hard it is to find replacement at the last minute to take care of worship service, but she had managed to do it). The covenanting was done. After this covenanting service however there was a different ceremony taking place in Elgin. United Church Women’s group was disbanding and a very sombre moment had arrived. You can hear and see the tears in the voices and faces, of those who were speaking. However, having the covenanting service on the same day of this disbandment reminded me that it is not always bad news around us – new beginnings also take place. These beginnings give us courage and remind us that the journey continues even if we do not see what lies behind the curve that we are about to take. Appropriately, the chair of the council of the church, called teen agers to come to the front and present all of UCW members with carnations – what a beautiful moment, to have the young serve the “Pillars” of the church. Appreciating all the work these women have done for the mission of God. My singing came after this ceremony and I thought it would be nice to share the story behind the song of, “It is Well With my Soul” here also. Because there are no time restraints, I thought I can share the story with more details. I took my time my time in doing so because the circumstances under which the song is written are astounding and might encourage everyone present, especially after the UCW disbanding. Horatio G. Spafford wrote the lyrics to this song on a cold December night, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. At the area where his two daughters were believed to drown along with 226 other people. His wife had survived the drowning and was taken to a hospital in England. On November 22, 1873 the Ville du Havre met its demised destiny and Horatio’s two daughters had not made alive from the sinking ship. The girls and mom were going to Europe ahead of Horatio for Christmas vacation. Alas, their vacation plans had turned into a painful memory. But yet, in the darkest moment of December night, when the captain of the ship, taking Horatio to Europe from Chicago, advised Horatio that there is a big possibility that they are crossing the area where the Ville du Havre had sunk. That night, Horatio was not able to sleep and wrote the lyrics to this song. This historical background of this song has made one of my mother’s favourite hymn become one of my favourite one. Every time I sing it, I think of this story and wonder how strong Horatio’s faith was. I remember when I lost my father 25 years ago, I retaliated against God and wanted to have nothing with Him (God was a “HE” at that time for me). I never wanted to do anything with a God who takes away loved ones – I was only 18. Ten years after my father’s passing I lost my mom. Things were different. I was able to see little miracles, signs taking place and making me realize that pain and suffering is part of this world and we really cannot escape them. However, no matter what, God is with us and we are not alone. After singing the songs, I set down. I was shaking like a leaf. For the first time in my life I was convinced that I did a good job (I say this humbly) and I was praising God. The pianist turned around and extended her hand to me as a sign of “You did it” – I was moved. My tears wanted to run down, as I was feeling relieved. I was holding them back. As I was still “out of this world” I heard a congregant ask the minister if he can say a word. And the minister of course said, “Yes”. This gentleman stood up with tears in his eyes and thanked me for the gift of music that I offered this morning. He turned to the congregation and told them that how blessed they are to hear a beautiful rendition of the songs in another language. It reminded him of an experience he had at an event; where all gathered said the Lord’s Prayer in different languages all at the same time. He shared that it was wonderful to hear some other language than English and see how it is possible to worship God in other languages. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back – I started to cry. Good thing I had thick napkins with me, little Kleenex was not going to cut it . I was thinking, why am I crying? Was I thinking of my mom, dad or other family members? The answer kept on coming – No. So, I let it be. On the drive back home, I stayed quiet in the car and did not turn on any music because I wanted to dig deep and see what will surface from this cry. I believe I got it, by the time I got home. These congregations who have known me for 20 days ONLY, have not only embraced me as a student for ministry, supporting my journey; they have also embraced my heart, my origin, and the language of my soul. No matter what obstacles a group of Armenian church leaders and “friends” brought my way to discourage me to answer this call, because of my gender. God of Love, literally brought me to fields of “gold”. (You must see the fields in the Rideau Lake Region now – they are Gold.) People shut doors in front of me and told me I was wrong and not in tune with the Bible if I answered the call to ministry. God said, “Stay close to me Takouhi and I will take you to green pastures and living waters. Where you will eat, drink and share with others for my sake. In your weakness my strength will shine. In the chaos surrounding you, my beauty will show”. God brought forth the people who embraced and supported me on this journey and are still doing so – strangers becoming my friends, my family – an extension of God’s Love. Has anyone rejected you? Do not despair because God Loves you as you are. Rest upon the everlasting arms of Love and you will soar on the wings of peace. The work of God is not about me – it is about doing the will of God and making a difference in this world now. The will of God is not about thinking of a heaven in the future and creating hell in the present time. The will of God is to embrace ALL, welcome ALL, Forgive ALL and most of all to LOVE ALL unconditionally. I will never forget, in September 2006, my sister’s best friend was invited to Armenian Women’s conference where she was asked, “What is your stand about women becoming ordained minister?” As a woman who was rejected by the same denomination, but now an ordained minister herself. her reply was simply, “In the stories of the Bible we have read the different means that God has used to send messages to people. If God can use a donkey to relay a message, I think God can use a woman”. Thanks be to the “Great I Am”.

Response: “Untimely Deaths”

Posted October 1, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Everyone,

                It is not  a regular habit of mine to write responses to e-mails that I receive, however, I received an e-mail entitled, “Untimely Deaths” so many times that I had to make time to write this response. The following thoughts are my opinion and in no shape or form am I disrespecting what you think, should you hold the e-mail in question close to your hearts. You are not obliged to read this response if you are not interested or have no time for it. God will not hold you responsible nor punish you for not reading it or not forwarding it to anyone else.

          In my childhood I remember learning about God who loves, but also punishes individuals if they do anything wrong. If someone was sick, they had gotten sick because God gave them that sickness to teach them a lesson and pay back for their sins. If someone lost their employment, they must have done something wrong that God has seen it fit for them to become miserable and suffer. If there is an earthquake, a tsunami or tornado, God is shaking the foundations of the earth to wake the people up because they are sinners. All of these bad things are taking place because God is almighty and can do whatever pleases the God-self – God is teaching creation a LESSON. These are only a few of the beliefs that were embedded in my mind as a child and I am certain that a few of you can very easily relate to these also.

           Today, I have answered the call and am a candidate for ministry. Because I am a woman, many people attempted to convince me that I should not go forward and start theological classes to become an ordained minister as I am not fit – I am a woman. These people also attempted to tell me that my admittance into theological school will take away space from the men who want to go into ministry. The God I believe in, has room for any who seek, no matter what sex or age or colour… But, we take a box, label it God, and put God-self in it so that God can fit our own thoughts and our own theological standards instead of us attempting to live a life that is “out of the box” and rooted in the vast, unimaginable grandeur of the Love of God.

           I do not know who wrote the e-mail, “Untimely Deaths”, but I believe that it is an e-mail that does more damage to an already wounded Christian Faith than good. This rationalization of the untimely deaths of famous singers, leaders and actors, that insists on having God as a long bearded judge sitting up above, making a list and checking it twice, for every single individuals’ acts. The thoughts and words in this e-mail boggle my mind. In this view God is keeping the score so that God can send down brimstones, lightning and hail to pay back all bad people according to their deeds. But God is not all of these – God is God of Grace.

                It is truly unfortunate that someone has actually taken the time to gather all these different events throughout history and composed this e-mail. I would like to ask that person, “Where is the Gracious God of Christianity?” By all means, I do not mean that I, Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro have grasped and understood all facets of God, but that is the magnificence of this mystery – The beauty of our Faith. We are invited to ask ourselves at every situation the important questions and gather pertinent information throughout our experiences and others and bring them under the prism of God’s Grace. We need to discern situations by patience and prayer. Allow the  spirit of God to lead us. If we are very happy with our decisions, I say we need to reconsider them, because for us to be graceful means  to get out of our comfort zones and have no personal gain.

            I will not go through the entire e-mail to which I am responding to and dissect every individual who is mentioned in it but I would like to touch on a few of them. First, If John Lennon said Jesus’ topics were too simple, so what! Yes, Jesus’ parables were simple, but they had extraordinary teachings. Think about it. All the parables in the Gospels are simple –  They are everyday living  with extraordinary lessons. It is sad, that no one had explained this to Lennon so that he could have understood that it is in its simplistic teachings that Jesus did extraordinary work – He changed the world. And if Lennon thought he was more famous than Jesus, he was right. Just think for a moment. Jesus was born in a small part of the world called Judea where there was no television, no radio, or any sort of technological tools compared to the Beatles time. The Beatles were making recordings, selling albums and their songs were being played on radio and appeared on television. Don’t all these qualify The Beatles as being more popular than Jesus? But, SO WHAT? Jesus’ simple words but extraordinary Love towards everyone – EQUALLY, spread out to the world, without the need of technology and this “Body of Christ” still lives in the world until today. Why are we so offended?

                Why do we take things personally and get upset?  God is greater than our capabilities and does not need our “protection”. God just asks for our obedient heart to follow the ways of Jesus – Loving EVERYONE without prejudice, caring for EVERYONE with all that we can and bringing peace on earth. God did not keep track of Lennon’s actions and words and ordered a hit on him. Lennon’s untimely death was a human decision. A man, a human being like you and I named Mark Chapman, decided to go and kill John Lennon. God has given us freedom to choose. We need to grow up and take responsibility for our actions.

            And what if the Brazilian composer, singer, poet, Cazuza did smoke a cigarette on stage and puffed out a smoke and said, “God, that is for you”.  Was his death really a punishment from God, or was it because smoking does cause cancer, and cuts human life short. In recent events, at the end of Michael Jackson’s memorial service, his brother said, “I do not know why the Lord took my brother away so quickly”.  I say to him, “The Lord did not take away your brother but secret human actions took Michael away from this world so suddenly.”  Of course no one knows what those actions were.  

             We can go on about different events throughout history and attempt to rationalize everything and have concrete answers. We can attempt to understand and capture God in our own individual little boxes that serve our own desires. If God kills all who mock God’s-self, then why do so many infants die at birth or later on? Why are other innocent children and women and men tortured and killed daily?  God is not all that.

            God is All Love, All Grace and All Peace. God asks us to be the liberating Love that this world needs, the common Grace that we need to share, the unending Peace that all need to be fed. As human beings we need to take responsibility for our actions and be accountable. We need to take care of each other, take care of the universe and stop pointing the finger to God as the one who is keeping the score and punishing individuals. Spread your arms wide. Embrace the world around you with the love that God trusted us with. You and I are created in God’s image, how can we disrespect and kill one another? Begin accepting yourself as a child of God and allow the same love to flow out to others. Accept others through the light of God’s Love and accept all of the universe as it is created by the breathe of God. There is more to life than what we can see and understand. Become  the refreshing waves of living water that God has called us to be and help the parched world see the Gracious, Loving and Peace giving God working through us – Flourishing the soul. Amen.

Journal # 4

Posted September 29, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

September 23: The anticipated day arrived: The UCW Fall Rally in Elgin. My very first UCW event ever. I was the keynote speaker – what a gracious privilege. As my schedule has been pretty full since I arrived here, I was working on the reflection until very late last night and early this a.m. – But it was so worth it!

            The music director for the day was just phenomenal. We sang new songs and old hymns. He made sure all present participated by singing or playing one of the many instruments that he had brought with him. What a gift!

            Once again, the Spirit of God worked and many were blessed from the reflection that I offered. After seven years of doing this, I still wonder if what I share will make a difference in people’s lives – and I am always surprised by the feedback I get. I think I forget that it is not my words but God’s Spirit works in the hearts of people.  God has not seized to show that the Spirit is able to do miracles as long as we are willing to share with sincere heart, allowing others to see the genuine work of God. My focus for the day was Psalm 23. How the shepherd leads the sheep to green pastures and babbling brooks of fresh water for nourishment. Even though often the road to get there is thorny and rocky. If the sheep however, stay close to at the heels of the shepherd, they arrive safely. Because when the little hoofs of the sheep step into the footprints of the shepherd, they are stepping into the safety zone of the shepherd’s love. The shepherd’s footprints are larger than the hoofs of the sheep therefore the sheep are led into green pastures and living waters to satisfy their needs and nourish their hearts.

            I shared my story of getting out of Lebanon 26 years ago. Through the mountains and the valleys of Lebanon crossing into Syria. I still get chills when I think of that day. Yes, it is tiring to prepare such sermons, because digging deep and opening one’s heart is  demanding. However, the end result is always healing and uplifting. When individuals come and share how they were blessed  – that is worth staying up and digging deep. So, all I can say is, “Thanks be to God for giving us life, so that we are able to share the blessings we have enjoyed, even though they have been through hardships and fearful moments”.

            After a simple but delicious lunch, we were preparing for communion and I asked the minister if we had a song ready before communion. As it was following after the UCW business meetings. And yes, there was a song selected, so I kept to myself the song I had opened in Voices United. The song I had open was page 664, which is “What a Friend We Have In Jesus ” – For some reason I wanted to sing this song so strongly. But I was not going to change things around for my own wants. So, I said, “Great!” In my heart, however I said, “God, you know my desires. Even if we do not sing, would you lead the music director to play this song at the end? I am sure he will do an amazing job”. I just let it be. We shared the table to which Christ invites us every day (communion) and we ended our rally by singing, “Go Now In Peace”, which is one of my favourite songs also. It reminds me of my home congregation in Laval, Northlea United. It is there that I learnt it and it is sung every Sunday at the end of worship service. So, I got to fly home in my heart and reunite with my “family” at that time. After all was said and done the wonderful musical director started playing – YES, you guessed it, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Not just in the regular arrangement which we have in the hymn book, but from another wonderful arrangement. I could almost shout for Joy! In my heart I said, “Thank you God. You truly know the desires of your children and you grant us our needs”. Not only did I hear the song I wanted to hear, but heard it in an amazing arrangement. What a day, what a joy, what an experience to be reminded that God takes care of our simplest needs. Some call it luck, some call it fate, I call it Grace. Thanks be to God.    

            Later in the evening, had to go to a council meeting which was a good learning experience. I actually got to understand what is the minister’s role. I would summarize as “the spiritual buoyant”. Helping people stay focused on the mission of the church and whatever it is that the people want to continue ministering through. And this makes the rule of ministers not having a vote comes in very handy. It was a great learning experience. I truly love the quiet presence that the minister brought but yet, there was guidance in the quiet presence. 

            September 25: This day began with launching services booklet at the Portland Church. This is an outreach with the coalition to fight poverty. The booklet is a directory of local, provincial and federal government services. To help people find answers in life’s toughest moments. There was a lovely lunch prepared by the outreach committee of the church and afterwards discussion on “Where to go from here”. How to help the community even more.

            I never realized, in the 20 days that I have been here, what do people do when they cannot afford to have a car. How do they get around? There was a man who shared, this is his biggest problem. If there is a soup kitchen in the next village or a food bank in the other, how do you go without having a car? There is no public transport. There are things we do not think about when we have them at our fingertips in the city. But then again, there are people in the city who have the services but still cannot afford the services, what do we do?

            My sister says that, I have nothing better to do (without a TV) and I keep on reflecting and writing. But seriously, the entire world has become so material driven, including me. And all we see is what can I buy next? How am I going to afford the next big thing? While people who need food, cannot get to a food bank because they do not have the means to get to it. We need to wake up! I need to wake up!

            When I was in Laval, my biggest excuse not to go to visit people or other activities was, “I do not have time”. Yes, to some extent this was very true in the past 5 years, because of school. I remember often though, before school, I would be “busy” watching television. Tonight, I had no excuse. There was a fund raising concert in Newboro for the roof of the Newboro United Church and I decided to go. I am so glad I went.

            I enjoyed an evening of great music and knowledge. The person who did this concert is a genius. He told the “history” of Australia from the 1800’s all through the 1950’s (I hope I got the dates correct). Through singing and displaying pictures on the screen. I have to say, I feel smarter J. Besides the historical aspect of the evening, I also got to hear Didgeridoo and ate Vegemite and yummy Lamingtons.

            As I was driving home, I turned off my CD and allowed the peacefulness around me, help percolate my mind on all the information that I had just heard and seen and allow the experience overflow to my heart. One thing kept on repeating in my heart, “We are all the same. We all have different stories, and have come from different corners of the world, but we are all the same. Hardships, sailings, new discoveries and longings – we all have similar feelings, and desires. All the war and depression which has taken place in the past, created by us, humanity, still continue in our midst. We build invisible walls that separate us from each other, we use power in negative ways and step on the weak to gain status. Those of us who have realized this, what are we going to do different from the past to help humanity to come together and live better. How can I Welcome ALL? To my home, to my church, to my community, to my work place, to my school, etc.

            We have travelled through the wastelands and barren fields. We have lost loved ones and made new friends. We are here at the crossroads of change, what do we do next?”  

            The “other” is “ME”, represented in another body and a different voice.                                          

             So I leave you with this question today, “What do we do next?”

Journal # 3

Posted September 23, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

September 16: Today began with a friend on Facebook, from Lebanon catching me on the site and chatting for a few minutes before I left the house.  the chat truly encouraged me and gave me the boost to go on. She reminded me that the abundant life that I am living now is the grace of God answering my mom’s prayers of many years. I am so thankful for having that moment with her on Facebook. As the day went on, the intensity of the day and the exhaustion of the body became more bearable. Helping me see beyond the now.

            One of the new things that I learnt today was doing a Bible Study on the lectionary readings which were coming up , what a great idea… I loved it! Afterwards we went for lunch to Westport and met other ministers and priests in the neighbourhood for an ecumenical update on what is going on in the neighbourhood and bid farewell to one of them as he is moving to another perish about 100 kilometres away from here. I found it such a great learning experience because I had never been in a circle such as this. Yes, I have been in ecumenical services in Montreal, which take place once a year in January. It is usually a worship service and then a supper, but this was different. It did not involve any ritualistic worship, but there was worship in our own hearts. The respect and the care demonstrated by each clergy towards each other and the respective communities was form of worship for me. I heard of different activities that have taken place during the summer and also of the exciting ones they will take place in the coming Christmas Season. I am eager and thankful to be part of this pastoral charge – What a Gift!

            September 17: This day was dedicated to preparing my talk for the UCW rally, which will take place on September 23. My topic will be Psalm 23. Based on the information that I have heard, the Elgin UCW will be disbanding and this is the “last” Fall Rally that they will host. But I am hoping and praying that the talk I will deliver will get the message across that the work of God never finishes or disbands but this will be a different avenue of ministry.

            In the midst of working on my PC, I received an e-mail from the minister which was a forward of the  UCC’s General Secretary’s Weekly Message and in there she had a quote (from a photography book), which made so much sense and gave me chills when I read it (read the last line closely). “Letting go of self is an essential precondition to real seeing, when you let go of yourself you abandon any preconceptions about the subject matter that might cramp you into photographing in a certain, predetermined way……….when you let go, new conceptions arise from your direct experience of the subject matter, and new ideas and feelings will guide you…….. Preoccupation with self is the greatest barrier to seeing, and the hardest one to break”. What words to make us realize that often we are our own enemy because e we preoccupy ourselves with our own self. How much do I need to remind myself that this life is not just about me.  

            What an amazing evening to spend in communion with the children of God. We visited a couple who will have their baby baptized soon. My very first time to have a meeting like this. How rewarding! The time we spent together was not just a learning process for me, but also a blessing. How beautiful it is to see that God’s Spirit works through different ways. Yes, the visit was in preparations for the baptism, but the pastoral care element was the center of it. I never knew. What a joy! But isn’t the spiritual search that brings people back to basics? Back to church? No matter how much we are buys in our lives, but there are moments where people feel the need to belong – because  we all belong together. We often do not see this until we are in a hard place in our lives.

            You can also make a note that I learnt a lesson from two ducks and a goose today. About two or three kilometres away from my home, there were two white ducks and one Canadian goose crossing Highway 15, on foot. They were so calm, almost smiling but determined to cross the highway – they did.  The two cars stopped and let them cross. What a lesson to learn. Even though sometimes we have to cross highways where cars are zooming towards us, we need to keep on smiling stay focused on the goal and calmly continue the journey.

            After the visit when I arrived home, I locked the doors of the car and of course all went dark – I mean dark. I looked up to see if I was able to few stars over my head. I did not see few stars, but an army of stars. What an awe inspiring moment. It seemed the stars were playing a silent orchestra of Tranquility and Praise; Joy and Peace; Light and Life; even in the darkest moment of the day. This sentence formed in my mind by experiencing this awe-some moment, “Even in the darkest moment of life, there is living, there is music. They may appear to be unreachable by human means, but the quiet symphony of the stars play the deafening music of peace that restores the soul”.

             September 18: What a day! Where does time go? This question is always on my lips. I think, I am starting to have some form of understanding now. Time flies without leaving any residue, but our actions determine what time has shaped. The hours, the seconds that fleet away make eternal significance. Our actions leave marks on this earth that shape the now and the eternity. If we leave footprints on the sand, our words leave prints on people’s hearts. So, how I spend my time is how I shape the present and the future for me and all around me. The present is a gift to be unwrapped and shared with others with love. Love is the rock we need to stand upon.

            Had a great day today with working on Sunday worship preparations with the minister of the church. After which we visited an apartment building right around the corner from my place, where we are looking forward in starting Bible Studies in October. It is not a Bible Study for the apartment building only but for ALL, so “ALL ARE WELCOME!”  This phrase has been resonating in my daily walk and is shaping my learning goal of welcoming ALL in our midst. How much do I really mean when I say, ALL ARE WELCOME?

            After this beautiful visit, I attended a ladies luncheon at a home not far away from me, so I walked. Had a great time with so many beautiful ladies and got to know a few of them much better. Not all were from the pastoral charge, so it gave me a broader perspective to meet the community at large. Each lady had to choose a hat and wear it for the entire party. I was happy that there were at least two other ladies who had trouble finding  a hat that fits them, because that has always been  my problem. But no worries, we managed to get hats for ourselves and wore them for at least an hour and a half, until I really got warm.

            There was a lady at the luncheon who had beautiful jewellery for sale. Like many of us, I saw a gorgeous piece. A heart shaped pendant on a chain, which I put on and it looked gorgeous around my neck. But I had to stop myself and ask. How many pieces of jewellery do I have that I do not even wear. Do I really need to add more figures on the credit card? Wanting and needing is a constant struggle.  I remembered the time when I was packing to move to the internship site, I had to think twice about what to bring, because I had so much. How can we overcome this materialism that is embedded in our brains? Do the commercials, billboards play a part, or is the desire a natural want? If we do not train ourselves to stay away from temptation by making conscientious decisions, we can be addicted to different things and become “slaves” to materialism.

            I had to rush off at 1:30, walk back home, pick up paperwork and go to see my supervising minister to shape up my goals and plans, for the first LST (Lay Supervision Team) meeting that is to take place on Tuesday, September 22. We ironed things out and had a blessed time together. I think I am ready for the meeting.

            As I left the manse I actually came across something thin, long, and black with short yellow spots, which moved when I got right next to it – Yes, you guessed it, it was a garter snake. First time to see it!

            Now, I can comfortably say that I have seen a deer, a mouse, a bear, a skunk, two ducks and a goose, a spider (in the car, while driving, but did not panic), a snake and a ladybug (again in the car on the way home and did not panic) and not forgetting the cows, the horses and the sheep that are part of the scenery here wherever I drive – I love it. I have realized that there is something about living alone, you panic less when you see insects like spiders and other creatures like mouse, etc. Isn’t that interesting?

            The biggest blessing for today was, coming back home and having Gary open the door for me. He had arrived about an hour before I arrived home – What a joy! It was wonderful to see him, hug him and enjoy his presence. Thanks be to God.  

           

            As days are getting busier, I am running late in posting my blog; however, I will continue to post them at least once a week and update you on all the work that God is doing through the body of Christ and the community at large – ALL GOD’s CHILDREN.

            What a great Joy to be serving an awe-some God! May you all enjoy this presence no matter where you are found and in return offer to others with humility and love. AMEN.

Journal # 2

Posted September 16, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

            There is still 27 minutes to end today, September 15, and there is so much to thank God for. My cold seems to be going away, slowly but surely. Tonight I attended a different Presbytery meeting, The Kingston Presbytery – Loved it. So, cozy and comfy. We even got fed a delicious meal. How creative! Also, saw a black, beautiful, huggable bear on Highway 5 on the way back home. And I have already been here for 10 days (233 to go until May 8, 2010. This breakdown actually helped me realize that the internship is only 243 days. When I broke it down to days, my perspective changed and I embraced it even closer. The time period seems much shorter and faster for some reason. I guess, what is 243 days compared to 15,120 days [42 years] – a drop in the bucket. When you really think about it, what is eight months or a year compared to a lifetime? I guess this proves, our attitudes pave our way). May be this is what we all need to do sometimes. Break things down into chewable portions and think about them with a new perspective.  

            Yesterday, Monday, September 14, was a weird day. It was officially my day-off. It was weird to have Monday as a day-off. When everyone complains about going to work on Mondays, I praised God for it (and those of you who went to work on Monday, you can always thank God for having a job and a steady income). I truly attempted and I believe I did succeed to a certain extent, to take care of myself. I went to the drugstore in Smiths Falls (a nice 20 min drive from my place) and stocked up on different meds, cough drops and vitamins, so that I can get better soon and feel 100% once again. I also did something that I have rarely done before – went for walks, twice. One in the morning and one at sunset. The one in the morning was tiny bit work related but it was still good for my health and also for my learning goals. I needed to see the bulletin paper for this coming Sunday (20th), as it is my turn to choose songs, write prayers, and do children’s time. Yes, this was work on my day off, but because my cold was very bad on Sunday and I had no idea what would already be printed on the UCC bulletin paper that the church has, I had to postpone this portion of my “work blocked time” from Sunday to Monday. Our secretary explained to me over the phone on Sunday evening where to go find the bulletin papers; and she had done a great job in doing so, as I found everything that I was looking for and learnt so much at the same time. When the time comes and I get appointed to a pastoral charge, I would like to do the same. Order different bulletin papers from UCC resource center and use the different photographed bulletins for each week. I was so amazed to find the bulletin papers separated by week numbers of each Sunday, etc., etc. Each bulletin picture is more beautiful than the other, even though they seem so simple at times. I truly recommend that churches who do not do this and have the picture of their own church building each and every week as their bulletin paper, get out of the mould and attempt something different, something colourful. Spend money, so that God can fill in the blanks.

            Sunday, September 13, was the first worship service that I participated in leading it. Already delivered my first reflection and also took part in inviting people to the communion table. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, humility and grace. I was not as nervous as I thought I would be, but then again, as I was delivering the sermon, I did see a few of the Lay Supervision Team taking notes. What do you do at a time such as that? You tell yourself, “Just let it be and let God work”. And as I was attempting to sing with my crackling voice, I was reminded of my mother’s words, “My daughter, by the time our crackling and tired voices get to heaven, they become angelic voices, as everything we direct to God, is listened to through God’s perfect love”.  Yes, my cold was worst on Sunday, but the Spirit was not away off on a sick leave. I have to mention about the music directors at both churches – AMAZING! I can listen to them all day, all week, all year – They are fantastic. And to put the icing on the cake, the music director in Elgin, played  a few of my mom’s favourite hymns: “The Old Rugged Cross” and  “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. I told her afterwards if she had received an e-mail from heaven. I said to her, “Did my mom send you an e-mail with the song requests? The two songs you played were two of my mom’s favourite hymns, and I was singing them in Armenian in my heart”. What a gift that was. To realize that I was not alone. Even in the midst of a brand new congregation, a new town and a whole lot of new way of living – I was not alone. God’s Spirit reminds us that we are cared and loved for, even if the reminder is just a tune.

            Saturday, September 12, was dedicated to staying indoors, getting better and working on my reflection for Sunday a.m. I have to admit that it was a quite  a struggle. How much exegetical work do I include?  How personal can I make it? How far can I go? I barely know the congregation. I have worshipped with them once only and here I am preparing a sermon. Well, the one thing I have learnt in the seven years of writing sermons: Keep it true to yourself, preach it to yourself and if you have learnt something and made a change in your life, than share it with others – the message will go across. I am not here to judge others but I am here to learn and share what I have learnt from the passages of the given Sunday. We are not perfect, that is why we need to stay in God’s Love and strive to share this love unconditionally.

            I know I can go on until the morning, but I do want to log-off here tonight and post this, so that all who are awaiting for it can enjoy. I know this is not written in perfect English, but it is written with total honesty and humility. Just in case there is a small part of my experiences can encourage you to walk the talk and change the world, one step at a time. AMEN – Tuesday, September 15, 2009 – 11:59 p.m.

Journal # 1

Posted September 11, 2009 by Takouhi
Categories: Uncategorized

            Internship for ministry. What does it truly entail? If it is to help me learn how to prepare worship services, I have been doing that for seven years; why do I need to move away for eight  months and get out of my comfort?

            These are the questions that come with me into the Elgin Portland Pastoral Charge in Ontario. But I made an extra effort to put these questions in the back burner and allow God to work. I needed to do this so that I see how I can grow and help others grow with me. It is not just about me after all, it is about the community of God who  has accepted me, a stranger to come into their midst. They have embraced me before even knowing me – This is Grace.

            This is an attempt to keep a journal by blogging daily (wishful thinking) and write down my thoughts and experiences that take place in this chapter of my journey. So this is the first.

            September 11, 2009: I officially started my internship on the eight and the end date is perceived as May 8th.

            On the first day (Sept. 8), Bell Canada came and installed the landline and the high speed internet. The landline was a sure thing, but the high speed internet was an uncertainty. A congregant insisted that Bell will not be able to provide any high speed internet for me, because they just do not do it in this area and the Bell customer service individual was wrong in offering us the service. However, with Gary’s wisdom and patience, we put that concern in the back burner and advised all, just to be patient until the technician showed up. We just trusted God with it. Here I am all connected with high speed internet with Bell. Miracles do still happen.

            The same afternoon, the local minister took Gary and I around and discovered all the hidden treasures that these townships offer. I have to admit, I truly loved Chaffey’s Lock. We saw a gorgeous Celtic Cross, which I will go back and take a picture of it, once our camera gets back in our hands from the repair shop. Such a gorgeous place – I cannot help but thank God constantly for that tour. And in the evening we had our first Lay Supervision Team meeting, where I got to meet the people who are my support group and challengers for this internship. And how wonderful they are. They truly carry the word Grace in their hearts and want nothing but my well being and my growth. They are my “support system” – Thank God.

            September 9, came in a flash and zipped away. I walked to the Portland church office. It was exactly 964 steps from my home. As I was walking on the gravel (shoulder of the Hwy 15). As I felt a little discomfort once in a while from the pebbles under my sole, I reflected on how Jesus’ feet must have hurt so much more, as he walked with sandals on dusty, pebbly roads. Here I am with socks, Rockport shoes with insoles and I was attempting to complain to myself. But at the end of it, walking is the best thing I can do for myself. Afterwards, I discovered a better route home, through the town, close to the edge of the lake. WOOHOOO!

            Our meeting went well. It was to organize the responsibilities of the Sunday Service (Sept., 13th). I was asked if I would be ok to prepare the sermon, and of course I said “yes”. One thing I have learnt while in McGill, never be afraid to do things right away, because you have to do it anyway. Afterwards returned home, and with Gary we went to Smith’s Falls to shop for few things that I still needed for the apartment.

            In the evening, went and joined the Elgin Christian Education Committee’s meeting. It was a thrill to meet them all. I must say, these teachers are filled with the Love of God and they want to reach out to the youth. Hallelujah! Get ready Youth of Elgin-Portland, great things on their way. 

                       Yesterday, September 10, 2009: a very emotional day. For the first time, I was going to live alone fr the first time ever. A new environment away from home. The comfort of having everything at my fingertips has disappeared in a moment’s notice. I realized, how spoiled I have become in the last 26 years. Clean water, Comfortable bed, Medicine Cabinet filled with different types of cold remedies. And yet we complain and whine. I, thought of the poor and the needy. The ones who are in Canada or elsewhere in the world – where do they put their heads to rest at night, or what water are they drinking?

            Another reality kicked in – being away from my husband. Yes, we have been away before many times, but I was the one enjoying the comforts of our home while Gary was away on business trips. I did not give up my distilled water for a well water system. When Gary left here at around 12:30 p.m., we both had tears in our eyes and a few drops did come down our faces. But crying was not going to change anything at all; but there was peace deep down inside confirming that the Spirit of God is with all of us, no matter where we are found.

            In about an hour later, when Gary called to say that he will be arriving back home in Laval sooner than he thought, I got a little visitor, a little mouse in the kitchen, sitting in front of the stove and just licking its front paws. For the first time, I actually said, “how cute”. But, I did want it out of my apartment. As I got carried away on the phone with Gary, the mouse disappeared and I got more nervous, as it is better to see it than to lose it.

            Tried to call my landlady, no answer. An hour later she showed up and when I advised her about the mouse, she was surprised, as she never had that problem before she said. To make the story short, after she left, I saw the mouse again and this time I had a “light” go on in my head. I laid down the small garbage can that was sitting in the cupboard, put a slice of Swiss cheese, half in and out and let the mouse come out to it to trap it. AND IT WORKED! Within few hours, my upstairs neighbour offered to come and take the little creature out to the wilderness and I was so grateful.

            I know there are many tidbits that happen and will happen throughout these “country days”, but I will try to keep these journals to a one-two page maximum, as I do not want to bore you. And as my internship schedule begins to be more interesting than just mice and goodbyes, I look forward in writing about experiences of New Beginnings and Growth; Nervous Moments and Peace; New Challenges and Harmony; Shortcomings and Grace. Because it is through the beauty of God’s Wisdom we are called to be the Church. To be the hands and feet of Christ here and now.

            All these blessings are because of Grace and I remain humbly in it and ask God’s blessings be visible to us daily as we go through this journey together. Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary and God’s Wisdom at work in our Foolishness – AMEN. September 11, 11:20 p.m.