Today, while driving home from Point Grey after dropping our daughter, Erin off at home, I contemplated the events of this Thanksgiving weekend. It was raining and by the way people were driving, you would think it never rains. We live in Vancouver...it rains more than it doesn’t. I explained to Mike and Madison more than once, that I could understand people wanting to slow down in the rain, but PLEASE get out of the fast lane! In between my impatient outbursts, I was giving thanks…really.
We had a delicious salmon dinner yesterday instead of the traditional turkey spread. My parents had us all over and served the fish my dad caught while they were in Port Hardy last month. My sister, Elanna and her husband Peter and their children, Michaela and Luke were there and all of us. Well, except Madison, who got a call last minute from a friend to play hockey, so she came later. Mike left early to watch some of the game and when my dad found out that Mike had left for the game, he quickly gobbled the last couple of bites on his plate and flew out the door with Nathan to catch the last period. They all came back just in time for warm apple pie and ice cream.
Last year I was in the Dominican Republic on Thanksgiving. I was missing my family, but was experiencing a little more gratitude than usual. I was there for two weeks with a group of people in the construction business and in the business of giving, including my cousin Bryan and his friend, Marty. My parents decided I should go. Through their organization, Project Wellness (see my post News Worthy), they had already donated the funds for two homes in a village and were sponsoring two more homes in a new village. So, I was sent to help with the construction of these houses and to visit those recipients of the houses Project Wellness provided. We were putting tin roofs on brick houses. I had been on a few “Project Wellness” trips before (some with Mike and my kids). One to Nigeria and three to Malawi, Africa and, a trip years ago to Brazil. But none were like this one. The others were more geared toward visiting orphans and hospital visitation, delivering medication, soccer balls and jerseys etc. This trip was about physical work…blood, sweat and tears. Okay, not so much blood and tears, but a lot of sweat…and some tears.
Our young and fearless leader, Josh had a birthday while we were there. I didn’t know Josh before the trip, but only a few days in, I felt like I had known him for a long time; he became a friend right away…not just with me, but with everyone. While speaking with him at dinner the night before his birthday, I heard that quiet voice inside me say, “Give him your book.” I continued my conversation with Josh while I had a little talk with the Spirit inside me. The book He was referring to was my favourite copy of My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers...one of my dearest possessions. My dad gave me my first copy that stayed in a drawer for a couple of years before I took it out and discovered the treasure in its pages. It is now squished in between other books in my book case. The copy I took with me to the Dominican, that the Lord was now asking me to give away, was a revised edition I had been reading for years. It was well worn, like a favourite sweat shirt you put on when you want to get comfortable. It was marked with pen, pencil, highlighter, even eyeliner in all the right places. Pages were torn, folded, and falling out. I don’t have many dear possessions. I have a lot of possessions, I guess, but not many I hold dear. I have a ceramic ornament that my mom made me when I was young…a little blonde girl holding a cat. I don’t have it displayed in my living room or anything, but I know where it is and it’s very valuable to me. Other valuable possessions consist of homemade cards from my kids and some gifts from friends and family, but nothing much of monetary value.
Giving my book to Josh was very difficult. It was easier for me to give two weeks of my time, effort and sweat and tears in the construction of those homes than it was to give my tattered and torn, soft covered book (retail value, $5.99). Just before I presented it to the birthday boy, I opened it up to take my last look, and this is what Oswald said: “Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose.”
1. After a day of working on a hot tin roof. 2. A Project Wellness home. 3. A visit to an orphanage for disabled children. 4. Brian giving his new found friend a shoulder ride.