Wednesday, November 18, 2009

UAE Trip

Well, we've been back from the UAE for a week now. I have been asked many times about our trip, so I'll explain it all here.

Kerri and I had the opportunity to go to the UAE recently. We went for 9 days, although with long travel days (read: 15 hour flights) on each end it was more like 7 days there. We had the opportunity to go to a conference while we were there to learn more about the region and some of the work which is going on there. We also had a chance to reconnect with some good friends who live in the Arabian Peninsula and who were also at the conference.

The conference itself was four days, most of those days being from early morning until late at night. We pretty much just went to bed afterwards. We were pretty jet-lagged for the first few days. At the conference we had various meetings, during which we were able to learn more about the countries in the AP, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait. We met lots of people at the conference, made some new friends, and reconnected with some old friends. We also were able to attend the United Christian Church of Dubai, an interdenominational church which meets at the Dubai Evangelical Church Center, which is built on land donated to the church by the royal family of Dubai. It's pretty amazing to be at a Christian church in the center of an Islamic country!. Again, a great experience. .

After the conference we had the opportunity to be tourists in Dubai. We got to see the Burj Dubai (the tallest building in the world at 818 m high), the Burj Al Arab (the only 7 star hotel in the world), the largest mall in the world, Ski Dubai (the indoor ski hill), and many other great buildings. We also got to go to the Sharjah Aquarium, the Arabia Wildlife Center, and several local markets, including the spice souk, the gold souk, the textile souk, and the pet souk.

It was a great experience for us and we absolutely fell in love with the culture there. The diversity was amazing, and the atmosphere walking through the malls with all the different nationalities and languages present was wonderful.

I've been asked if I would go back. Yes, I would in a heartbeat. Except next time I would want to take our kids with us and visit more of the region.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall 2009

It's been a while since I last updated this blog. Sorry for that, but I've been busy.

I'm back in school, and even though I am only taking three classes there seems to be a lot of work for each of them. Just keeping up with the reading for each class has been keeping me busy enough, let alone writing papers too.

This semester I have Public Speaking, Baptist History and Belief, and Old Testament Survey. I am really enjoying all my classes and am learning a lot, which hopefully I will be able to apply in the future.

It has been a rough transition to back in school though. It has seemed like I cannot get into a good routine, with working one day a week, and trying to balance school work with family time. I certainly don't want to neglect Kerri and the kids for the sake of my school, but I also want to put in adequate time to my school work. Maybe I'll figure out a routine by the end of the semester!

There has also been a lot of stuff going on outside of school and work. I have taken on a role as an elder at our church, and also am co-teaching an adult Sunday-school class. This has been very good, but again, takes up time from my schedule.

Through all of it God has been faithful though. Somehow I've been able to keep going, in spite of what has seemed like too much work and too little time.

We have received a lot of bad news recently. My grandma is in the hospital, which has been very difficult for me personally. At this point we are still unsure what the future holds for her, but thankfully, she has faith in God. We are praying for her, as well as my grandpa as he deals with this situation, and would ask that you pray for them too.

A good friend of ours has found out recently that her husband has been having an affair for a while, and is now leaving her and her kids.

I could go on and on with all the bad stuff that's been happening recently. It seems like it has been one thing after another for us, but God is still right there alongside us.

On a more positive note, Kerri and I just celebrated our 11th anniversary, and have the opportunity to take a trip overseas soon (more on this at a later date). The kids are doing great in their schools, and we have had the opportunity in the past few months to make some new friends and to deepen friendships with some old ones.

Unfortunately the weather has turned ugly, so we have been forced to put away the climbing gear until next spring. The joys of winter in Canada, eh?

I guess we will have to find some climbing areas in Niger when we get there in a couple years. They don't have winter there! Yay for climbing year-round!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gearing up for the fall semester

Well, the summer is very quickly coming to a close and we will begin the busyness of fall next week. This has absolutely been the most relaxing, enjoyable summer to date. We were able to take our holidays at the beginning of the summer, which left the last 7 weeks to simply enjoy spending time together and hanging out. We discovered outdoor rock climbing as a family this summer and have spent quite a bit of time out in the mountains enjoying this new sport. Despite the wonderful summer that we have had, there is something exciting about getting back into a routine and schedule that September brings.

We will all be starting classes next week - Julia will be starting grade 2 and Daniel will be in French Immersion Kindergarten; Steve will be taking three classes and I have registered for two courses as well. The first one is "Old Testament Survey" which I will be auditing at the Seminary and the second one is "Cross Cultural Communication" which is an online course offered through Prairie Bible Institute. I will also be taking an ESL training course through Cooperative ESL Ministries which will allow me to be a part of Church based ESL programs as well as using it overseas.

All in all a busy semester for all of us, but I am hoping that we will be able to settle into our routines and adjust fairly quickly.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer 2009

It's been a while since we've posted anything new on here, so here goes.

It's now July 2009, and in some ways there has been much that has happened, and in other ways little has changed.

I am now done my first semester back at school, and loved it. I enjoyed all my classes, learned a lot, read a lot of books, wrote lots of papers, and finished with a 4.0 GPA. Three semesters left to go...

I've been working kind of part time since school finished. My first job has been at a little outdoor equipment store in Cochrane. I've enjoyed being back in retail, talking with customers, playing with the new camping gear, sometimes selling stuff. I've been working on average one shift a week there, enough for a bit of income and the staff discount on some cool gear (the real reason to work in that kind of store!). It's been fun so far.

My other job has been working with a friend in construction. Again, it's been kind of part time, whenever I've been available and they have had work for me. I've been doing all sorts of things with the company, including building some shelves, putting up a chain-link fence, building stairs for a dog to get on and off a deck, and coring big holes through 9" concrete floors on the 20th storey of a highrise building (at the edge of the floor, where there is only a flimsy fence separating me from a drop to the busy street some 200 feet below. It's not as bad as it sounds though.)

It's been really great to be able to just work casually this summer. I've enjoyed having lots of time to be home with Kerri and the kids. There have been times where I've started to go a bit nuts with nothing to do, but not too much.

We were able to take two weeks and travel down to Newport, Oregon as a family. It was a great time and we all have some great memories from the trip. If you've never been there you should go. It's beautiful. (Check out the Elizabeth Street Inn - great hotel, and the Cafe Stephanie - the best beef dip in the world.)

As for what's happening with us and our plans for going overseas, we are still plugging along with school. We went through a phase where we were questioning where God was leading us to go, but have come to realize that Niger is it. We are heading in that direction, so unless God flat-out tells us no, that is to be our final destination.

It is a relief and a stress to come to this conclusion. A relief because now we can stop stressing about figuring out where we are going and can focus on that one place. A stress because now that we've decided this, it is suddenly that much more real. We are actually going to do this.

But, that's still a few years away, so in the meantime we are going to get done school, and see what else is to come...


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moving Forward

After being here in Cochrane for just over four months now, I feel as though my mind has finally caught up to my heart. It's been a hard adjustment for me moving out here and the Thursday before Easter is when my mind finally realized what my heart has known all along - this is where we need to be right now.

I was volunteering in Julia's class and when I left to go home I realized that I had really enjoyed being there and I had a lot of fun interacting with the kids and the teachers. That was a profound moment as it was the first time that I enjoyed being in her class, and the first time that I did not compare it with her old school. I felt settled here for the first time and that was a great feeling. This past Thursday, Julia, Daniel and I went to visit her old school for the last time and while it was good to be back in her old classroom and see her old friends and teachers again, I didn't feel sad. We also took a drive past our old house, went to the Westwinds Superstore and on to Prairie Winds Park. It was good to revisit some familiar places again and it was a time of closure for me. As we were driving, a song came on the radio that talked about God never being far from us, and I realized that no matter where our family goes, no matter where it is that God leads us, He will always be with us. What a blessing and encouragement that was for me to once again realize that God is in control and that He is the one who is guiding us and that He will never leave us alone.

One of the things that I have been struggling with is trying to figure out what my role is in all of this moving and transition. There have been times when I have thought "well God, I can see how you are leading Steve, but what do you have for me?" I have continued to pray and seek God's direction and I have sensed his guidance in me going back to school on a very part time basis. In the fall when Daniel is in kindergarten, I will be taking two course online through Prairie Bible Institute's distance education; I will be taking a cross cultural ministries course and a counselling course. I have also had the opportunity to get involved with the international wives here on campus and I have begun to develop some great friendships through this.

I know that there are going to be valleys and transitions to go through again, but I also know that God is faithful and He will guide us through them once again.

Thank you to those of you who have been praying for us as we follow where God is leading; and please continue to pray for guidance in where God is wanting us to serve Him.


Saturday, February 14, 2009


The sale of our house went through yesterday and now instead of house keys we have a cheque that needs to last us for the next two and half years or so. The reality of that is beginning to hit and I don't really know how I feel. After living in our own home for almost 10 years, it's kind of strange to be "borrowing" this house for our duration here at Seminary. Although I feel very thankful and excited that God provided the sale of our house in such a terrible market, a part of me feels a little bit sad to see it go. In a society where such an emphasis is placed on possessions it seems somewhat wrong to let go of such a big one. I know that we have to do this in order to fully follow where God is leading us, but I am realizing that sometimes being stretched and challenged doesn't feel all that great!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Back to School

Well, I've been back in classes now for about a month. Most people have one question for me: "How is school going?"

My response to that is, "I love it!"

"Why?" you may ask.

Lots of reasons.

1. My classes are great. This semester I have four classes: Principles of Teaching and Learning, Music Appreciation, Principles of Leadership, and Writing and Research. I am learning so much in each of them and am able to actually apply much of what I am learning to my real life.

2. The professors are great. It is so nice to be able to learn from these people who have so much more knowledge and experience than I do. They make learning really enjoyable, and are all approachable and open.

3. The school is great. The facility is small and intimate, the library is well stocked with a lifetime's supply of great reading material (and a great librarian to help me find stuff - Hi Kathy!), the housing is really amazing with a spectacular view of the mountains (sunsets over the mountains every night!), and the community within the student body and families is awesome.

4. The town of Cochrane is great. It is so much smaller and quieter than Calgary was. I am really enjoying the small-town feel.

5. God is great. There is such a deep sense of peace and satisfaction knowing that we are right in the center of God's will. This is where God wants us to be right now. He has given me many new insights in the past month into who He is, what He wants to see in my life, and how to follow Him. He has shown His faithfulness to us in many ways, including selling our house in a very tough market (waiting of course until the last minute!), providing an opportunity to use what I am learning in leading a Bible study, and allowing us to join another study where we can go and learn even more.

What's next for us? I have no idea. All we know for sure is that God has called us to be missionaries to some part of the developing world. We are still thinking Niger, Africa, but are open to wherever God wants us to go.

We have no backup plan, no other options than to trust and follow where He leads. We no longer own a house. We have two cars, some furniture, and little else. We have some money in our bank account, but will be using much of that over the next couple years.

All we have to trust in is our God. There is an amazing sense of peace in that. A.W. Tozer describes this in his book, The Pursuit of God (one of the books I've read so far this semester), as "the blessedness of possessing nothing." He states, "everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed."

It's actually scarier to put your trust in other things (possessions, people, our abilities, money, government, the stock market, the health care system, should I go on?) than it is to trust in God, who sees all and knows all and loves you.

Reckless? Idealistic? Optimistic? Maybe, but I'd rather have God than have all the stuff this world possesses.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Our house

Our house sold today!!!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for this to happen. It's so encouraging to know that there are those out there who continue to pray for us as we follow along this path that God is leading us on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Living by Faith

Living by faith...definitely easy to say, yet much harder to do!

We moved out to Cochrane on December 13th and were able to spend 3 weeks getting settled, hanging out as a family and celebrating Christmas together before Julia and Daniel started school last week. Steve starts classes tomorrow and thus begins the new chapter in our life.

We had hoped by this time to have our house in Calgary sold, however that has not been the case and with only two showings for the month of December we made the decision to once again lower our asking price and see what happens. As of last Thursday, we have had six showings which is definitely a step in the right direction, but we are still waiting on an offer. Right now Steve is hoping to concentrate solely on school, so I have gone ahead and put out resumes and am hoping for a part time job.

We really believe that this is the direction that God is leading us and we both have a huge sense of peace being out here in Cochrane. We are learning that sometimes things don't make sense in our minds, but we have to continue to trust God and allow Him to lead us without us trying to step in and tell Him what we think would work best for us. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Isaiah 55:9 says" My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

Once again we would appreciate your prayers for us to take that verse to heart and wait on God's timing.