Thursday, July 29, 2010

More than just a backpack?

When my youngest child was still shorter than me, I purchased a really good backpack for a ridiculously low price.  In no time at all it was too small for him, so I took it as mine.  It’s now twelve years later, and if anyone dared, I’m pretty sure they’d be telling me that it’s time to get rid of it!

Why is it hard to let this backpack go?? It’s traveled many wonderful places with me, a trusted companion through thick and thin.

I remember my mission trip to Venezuela, where I had to wear it in front for security while we jostled around on public transit.  It had room for my passport, my journal, my bartered-for purchases, and my silly “Canadian Flag” hat -when I could get away with not wearing it.

My backpack survived the salt spray of many scuba diving adventures, greeting me onboard with dry clothing and skittles to lubricate my mouth after sucking that very dry compressed air. 

On the way to my daughter’s wedding, I was held up at airport security because I’d absent-mindedly left my pocket knife in my backpack. It was the only flight I’ve ever taken where my trusty companion left me to travel as checked baggage!

I’ve communed with God and nature on trails right across this country- an instant retreat with my backpack carrying bottles of water and wads of Kleenex as well as my camera, Bible and journal.  It’s guarded my lawn chair while I walk (and sometimes storm) a beach- a bottle of sunscreen tucked in with my towel, snacks and book du jour.

To add to its résumé, it’s carried my portable office to and from Welcome Home- whether walking, busing, or biking.  Speaking of biking- it’s been perfect for biking to and from Harry Class pool everyday in summer, and riding in the Ride 4 Refugees for the past 4 years.There was always a bottle of water and a semblance of a granola bar somewhere in there!

So, perhaps you can understand why I’m reluctant to lay my ratty-looking companion and carrier of significant memories to rest!  I’ve let go of a lot in my life these last two years and I'm still surviving, so, courageously I’ll start using the new one I purchased from the MEC Store a few weeks ago.  I wonder… what new adventures and memories will this one collect?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I'm still learning about how to be a missionary.  One question that I've wrestled with this spring is... to paint or not to paint my toenails.  Let me explain.

My previous career included pedicures as part of my wardrobe.  I also brought home a much higher salary.  This spring my daughter and I enjoyed a Mother's Day outing and got our toes painted in our usual flambouyant style.  When I returned from my time away, I noticed the refugee women facing yet another challenge- how to understand what I had done with my toes!  That got me thinking.

So, until yesterday I was quite content to accept that "missionaries just don't paint their toes".  What happened yesterday?? I was sitting in a circle with a group of North American peers who echo my passion for welcoming refugees in the Name of Jesus.  We were sharing communion and during our contemplation (yes, I confess, this is true) I noticed that my toes were the only unadorned ones around the circle- other than the men, that is! 

Now I'm forced to re-consider this question.  Will I or won't I paint my toes? Will it be merely a question of economics, or of trying to remove yet one more barrier to friendship with my refugee friends? 
Stay tuned as I continue to wrestle with becoming all things to all people, so that some might come to know my Best Friend!