Sunday, December 18, 2005

Well, I'm doing better. Though, I've been less exuberant than I usually am. People at work say, 'Nicole, entertain us!' which I usually don't mind doing, but I haven't had the heart. You know how you can be so lost in your thoughts that you can listen to a person talk to you, but you don't hear a word? That's how I've been. Inward. Had some good opportunities to escape though. Baked cookies with my mom all day. Went to a Christmas party for the coffee shop I used to work at. Read Memoirs of a Geisha...and hopefully, I will get to talk to a dear friend on the phone soon who knew Rahim also and we can remember him together.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rahim


"Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words." -Rahim Akazu

Today I found out my friend Rahim died in a bus accident in Nigeria along with several others. He was a student on the HIV/AIDS school that I attended in Cape Town last year and he was making plans to start a similar school in Nigeria. I was considering going to help him with this school along with some other friends. Now, we're not sure of anything.

Please keep us in your prayers, especially those who were closest to Rahim.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

This Is My Home!


Calgary went from a balmy +16 C last week to a drastic -24 C!!!


I know! I'm obsessed with the weather! On the one hand, it feels very Christmasey, like the kind of Christmas I remember as a kid. So cold your snot freezes! Gotta love Canada eh? On the other hand, well, I'm looking forward to the day when I'm a full time missionary in Africa and I can plan my visits to either enjoy the novelty of snow or avoid it completely! Secretly, I am kind of enjoying winter since I missed it last year. Don't tell!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What Historical Figure Am I?

You are Cleopatra





Beautiful and Charming. You are able to persuade anyone to do anything you would like, because of your hotness and charisma. You are an expert in gaining power over anyone you choose.


Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com



Hey, the quiz has spoken!

World AIDS Day 2005




"World AIDS Day 2005, themed 'Stop AIDS. Keep the promise.' will focus on keeping commitments to stop AIDS at all levels: personal, community, organizational, governmental." (www.unaids.org)

Last year, at this time, I was attending a memorial service in the township's cememtery for the children who had passed away while in the care of Beautiful Gate. Fortunately for me, the children I knew and loved at BG were on ARV's by then and were much healthier than the their friends who had died of AIDS in the first few years of BG's existence.I say fortunate for me because I did not have to endure the pain of seeing one of those beautiful children die. I don't know how I would have coped. I don't know how anyone copes in the face of such a devastating disease.

Check out these websites

www.unaids.org
www.beautifulgate.org
www.avert.org
www.care.ca

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Avoiding The Inevitable?

So....Nigeria....HIV/AIDS school....

February/March....thinking....praying....

much praying!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Someone Sing Me A Lullaby

Ahhh...I just cannot seem to sleep. But it's not just tonight, it's been every night for the past few weeks. The only really great night of sleep I had was last week when I had the flu and I doped up on Neo Citran. Maybe I should try it now....grrrr....does anyone know how to turn off my mind? It's killin' me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

When faced with an actual opportunity to do the thing you dream to do, does anyone else ever second guess those dreams? I find myself thinking, maybe I should just stay here, get a 9-5, buy a car, maybe one day a house, live a predictable, normal and fairly comfortable life. Plenty of other people do it.

But plenty of other people do just the opposite too....like my crazy friend Wilson Ramos, who is in South Africa and has a dream to start up HIV/AIDS schools all over Africa!
I like people who dream.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Some New Nicole Developments...

Ha! Did I scare anyone? You all thought I was gonna say I'm off to another country again right?! Well, sadly, no, there are no immediate plans for jetting off to some exotic place. But there are a few new things to tell you about, however small they may be...

  • I've been doing classroom observations all week for my TESL course. Very interesting. A lot of work but very rewarding! I've met people from a dozen different countries in just one week! My favorite was the literacy class which had a lot of Sudanese refugees in it. Have I mentioned I love Africa? And Africans?

  • The cool thing about meeting all these people, is I've started to develop a love for absolutely every culture I come into contact with. I used to think I would never go to China or Japan just because I had no interest in them but after meeting some people from these places, I just want to go Everywhere!

  • Ok, I don't know what possessed me to do this, but I am taking up belly dancing at the museum. It's being offered to the staff for really cheap so I thought, huh, why the heck not? It's to go with the theme of our new show, Petra: Lost City of Stone. Pretty cool actually. I'll let you know how my belly does after our first lesson Friday night.

  • And lastly, I have decided to make a concious decision to be positive about winter. Any suggestions would be ginormously appreciated! (I can't believe I'm saying this).

Oh, one very final note....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POOKIE-LU!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh My Goodness!!

So, here's the thing....God is Good. But I often act as if He isn't. As though He will not come through for me the 7 billionth time, as though He does not have my best interests in mind, as though He does not care about my hopes and dreams....But if I believe He is Good, GOOD, then my life should reflect that...

I had a good conversation with my mom and sister over dessert last night and it dawned on me, not for the first time of course but every time it does dawn on me it's like the first time, my family, the way we are today, is a miracle! We are a miracle! After all the shit we've been through, to be where we are, loving, growing, hoping, trusting, well it is God shouting from the rooftops, "I CARE!" And the most amazing part is, He isn't just stopping here. He keeps on giving amazing gifts to us, like my mom got Rolly and Michelle got Kirk and Scott got his dream job and I have been to Africa 4 times now before my 27th birthday! I've met amazing people and have friends all over the world! I know He will keep giving and teaching us how to live, to really live and to really love. I know there are things in store for us we can't even imagine because they are so amazing.....because GOD IS GOOD!

I want to start living it out more. This truth. I want to really believe it. Even when it seems the odds are against me. And I want to keep getting these revelations of His goodness at work in my life and in my family's life. Cuz it's just.... freakin'.... cool!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

So I have this issue. It's a money issue involving someone who owes me the money and well, it has nothing to do with the money and everything to do with this person and I'm damn tired of wasting my tears on said person............................................................................................................

I need a hug.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Like Books

Well, I am onto a new book that a couple of my DTS students recommended to me. I'm trying sooooo hard not to get too worked up about it, but this guys thoughts are my thoughts sometimes! It's helping me to realize I'm not the only one with these doubts and questions about Christianity. I realize a lot of Christians, not just non-Christians have been hurt and disappointed by the church and they are looking for something. Desiring something so much more. Desiring Jesus Himself, which is the point isn't it?

Well, anyway, here's my quote for the day from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

"Rick....asked us if we thought we needed to repent and start loving people who were different from us. We all told him yes, we did, but I don't think any of us knew what that meant. Rick said he thought it meant we should live missional lives, that we should intentionally befriend people who are different from us. I didn't like the sound of that, to be honest. I didn't want to befriend somebody just to trick them into going to my church. Rick said that was not what he was talking about. He said he was talking about loving people just because they exist-homeless people and Gothic people and gays and fruit nuts. And then I liked the souond of it. I liked the idea of loving people just to love them , not to get them to come to church. If the subject of church came up, I would tell them about [his church], but until then, who cared. So we started praying every week that God would teach us to live missional lives, to notice people who needed to be loved."

Then he writes this part at the end of the chapter that makes me laugh out loud at first and then go hmmmmmmm....


"So here is a step-by-step formula for how you too, can go to church without getting angry:


*pray that God will show you a church filled with people who share your interests and values


*Go to the church God shows you

*Don't hold grudges against any other churches. God loves those churches almost as much as He loves yours."


I like this author cuz God gives me hope through His writing and I've met a handful of people who are trying to live this life of "Christian spirituality" differently and that gives me hope too.

And that's all for today.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Success!

YES! I did it! I presented my Heath Education project last night at the coffee shop and I think it went ok. I was pretty nervous just before but once I was up there I was ok. There were lots of questions after, some hard questions, and my sister told me one girl who was there is now seriously considering going to Africa!!

Thank you to my friends from the G-Bow who made a special appearance just for me. It means more to me than you know to have your support! And you too Scotty!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm Still Here!!!

Has it really been that long since I last wrote? Yikes! Sorry guys! Just talked to my friend Jess who "encouraged" me to get my butt in gear and update....

Unfortunately, I have some papers to write for my TESL class, I have an HIV/AIDS presentation to finish for Sunday evening and blah blah blah. So, to satisfy your need for info from me, I will attach photos from the wedding that was like 3 weeks ago already and I will promise to be back just as soon as I can!

Cheers!

Mmmm....Moosewood....yummy vegetarian food in Ithaca. Posted by Picasa

Wedding Decorations! Posted by Picasa

At the Burrville Cider Mill Posted by Picasa

AE and her mom getting ready Posted by Picasa

Craig and Ann Elyse Foltz Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

It's as though it becomes clearer from above it all. The tinyness of human life and the scope of the beauty of the earth stretching in every direction... and my life.

Flying thousands of feet in the air, I'm always amazed these large metal contraptions stay up there afloat. Everyone around me is settled into their seats reading the paper, a book, typing on their laptop oblivious to the fact that we are part of this miracle way up high. That's when I understand the finiteness of man. Sure we can fly, but we don't know how to stop gravity when we begin to fall. We are so finite.

And for once I am so glad God is God. And that I do have moments in which I trust Him completely with my little life. Yes, and that I trust in His infinite Goodness. It sounds awfully simple but for me, this too is a miracle. A miracle of faith. Faith I thought I'd lost. I think I was just too close to the earth seeing those tiny rivers as raging oceans...

...to embrace this Love that chases me, is also to embrace my inability to receive without His help. It is also to embrace myself right here and now for who I am, fumbling and finite.

He makes me strong, He makes me eternal, He makes me OK.

Whoa...I believe I just shivered in the anticipation of what this freedom really means...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Mini DTS/South Africa/Beautiful Gate Reunion


Our mini DTS reunion at Lake Minnewanka near Banff Posted by Picasa

I had a great weekend! Spent Saturday in Banff walking around, showing Esther our beautiful Canadian Rockies and catching up with everyone. Then on Sunday, Esther and I participated in the AIDS Walk For Life in Calgary. It was great to see people who I had similar experiences with and to be reminded that living a life of passion for Christ IS actually possible and is being lived by these people I spent the weekend with. I needed that. Thanx guys!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Mama Nicole Sees Her Kids!

So, after we celebrated my brother's house-warming, I met up with the friends I'd made in South Africa! They were DTS students: Esther, from Malaysia/Australia, Dade who lives here too and Chris and Dustin from Edmonton! We went to Kilkenny's and caught up on everyone's life. Esther has been travelling around the world and Canada will be her last stop before she goes back to Australia. It was so bizarre to be sitting at a table with people I lived with for three months in a township in Cape Town, South Africa! Really bizarre! Today Lana, another "South African" will join us to go to Banff for the day! Yes! The mountains! I always see them in the distance but haven't been able to go yet!

And I leave for Syracuse on Tuesday to see my Benin friends!!!!!

This is fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Huh...an odd mix of a day, from utter boredom walking around a tiny gallery, to planning my life with one of my co-workers. (Teaching English overseas). And she wants me to write a poem for her to paint a picture to. She's an artist and I'm....a poet??? And I also met 2 new friends, Henry, from Sudan and Geeta from Nicaraugua who were at the museum with their school.

My friend Esther who I met while in SA is here! Yessssss!!! She's from Malaysia! And Dustin and Chris are coming from Edmonton to visit and Lana lives here now and so does Dade and we're gonna have a party and it'll be like South Africa all over again except different cuz it's actually Canada..........I love people!

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Constant Gardener

Saturday night I went to see 'The Constant Gardener' with Shannon and Stu, a long time friend of ours. Stu is great! He's a writer and poet, drinks espresso, takes long walks around China Town and knows what's important. Relationships. Though I admit, having Shannon the genius and expert conversationalist along with Stu the writer/poet, was kind of intimidating. Good thing we were watching a movie so I didn't have to talk.

So, the movie is about this British diplomat and his very 'passionate about her cause' wife. They live and work in Kenya and the movie is mainly about him having to uncover a bunch of lies to get to the truth about his wife....I don't know how much to write cuz I don't want to give it away but it has to do with big pharmaceutical companies and drug testing in Africa. They actually shot a lot of the movie in Kenya. It looked like the dodgy townships we came across in Cape Town, but the people were beautiful! The music! The setting! So good! Go see it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Spoons

I just got home from work at the coffee shop. I'm exhausted and now must get all dolled up and sophisticated for work at the museum tonight....i was lying on the floor in my living room and thinking how nice it would be to just lay there for a good hour....I'm hoping there will be fun people to work with tonight or I'll have to resort to entertaining myself, which usually consists of walking around on my tip toes or staring blankly at the wall........oh dear......

We played spoons last night for Scott's birthday. But everytime someone lost a round, they had to drink a glass of water and there were no pee breaks allowed. It was riotous!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LITTLE BROTHER!

My little brother is 23 years old today.

My little brother willingly puts himself in danger to protect other people as he fights fires or extricates people from their smashed up cars

My little brother just bought a house!

My little brother used to let me dress him up in my clothes, NOW, if I tried that, my little brother can pick me up and swing me around.

My little brother has always been the 'spoiled brat' that I was jealous of, NOW, I am the one spoiling him! (He's just so darn cute)!

My little brother will kill me for plastering this all over the internet, but I don't care.

My little brother is not so little anymore and I am so glad we are the best friends that we are.

I might even let him talk me into playing board games tonight!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCOTT!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

well, I'm sorry to have to do this to all my friends and family out there but because you are humans and therefore smarter in some ways than computers, I have to make you do the word verification thingy so that the computers stop invading my blog and leaving dumb messages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please don't stop leaving comments!!!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

"I Can Say Saskatchewan Without Starting To Stutter!" -The Proclaimers

Gave my notice at the coffee shop. I'll be working up until Thanksgiving or until my boss finds a replacement. And I registered for a course at Bow Valley College. It's TESLA (Teaching English As A Second Language Abroad). It's an 8 week course, then I finish the certificate through distance education from the U of Saskatchewan. Hopefully, this will give me some more skills to be working interculturally here and overseas. I also want to get way better with my French, and take a couple Arabic courses. There is also a small possibility that I may just wind up going to Saskatoon, SK to get a degree in something. Yah, like real school and stuff. I don't know. Small steps to start. Work my way up to full time studies or just take a bunch of courses on a bunch of stuff. Who knows at this point.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

How Many Canadianisms Can You Spot In This Entry? Go!

It gets dark now by 8:30pm, the leaves are turning colour and falling,....but oddly, I am looking forward to seeing the city all covered in snow, just gotta go buy me some very warm mitts and a TOQUE!!!

Drinking diet pepsi...belching loudly...I think to mydelf, hmmm, my belch sounded like the opening notes to 'Living On A Prayer' by Bon Jovi....roomate proclaimes exact same thing....tearful laughful ensues...are we one person?

Just watched Canadian Idol on TV, yes, I watch Canadian Idol, we only have one lonely channel and we'll watch pretty much any dumb thing on it EXCEPT Tommy Lee goes to college! I absolutely refuse to watch it and will promptly turn off the TV when it comes on because folks, THERE IS A LINE!!!!

The Barenaked Ladies are my heroes! Who else can write a song about a window washer and make it sound so meaningful and heart-wrenching? Yah, they're my heroes!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

iPod Shuffle

Ahhhh...finally a day off! I am now working 2 jobs, not an uncommon thing, but for me, exhausting! I'm still at the coffee shop and now back at the museum. I finally figured out that I need a day off every 6 days at least, after working 9 in a row! So, I slept in until the door bell rang when I had to dress myself half-asleep and run up the stairs to open the door to my new iPod shuffle! I got it free after switching banks, which was a no-brainer for me anyway since my previous bank SUCKED! Well, I can't say any of them are paticularily great, but the free iPod sure helped! I immediately opened it, installed it and was later found dancing around my kitchen with the tiny thing around my neck! I LOVE dancing when no one's around. Very freeing! Then I took my new favorite piece of plastic out for a run! Beautiful! Now, the only thing I need is some really GOOD African/World beat music to download onto my shuffle and I will be instantly transported to that happy place I like to call escape! Beautiful escape!

Back in the world of reality, which is not all bad of course, it's just not all exotic or adventurous or Africa, I am fully enjoying my tiny little apartment, my crazy, understanding roomate/bestest girlfriend Shannon (hey Mike, we had an after 10pm discussion that involved poetry reading-you'd be proud), having my pastor living upstairs with Stacey (his wife) and the twins who call me 'Cole', and the last few weeks of summer spent frequenting festivals like Afrikadey and Expo Latino and Atomic (a bubble tea smoothie cafe).

In the next few weeks I start presenting my Health Education Project for my church and our outreaches which I created for my HIV/Aids school. I'm excited to have something to be focused on and to see what I actually get out of it myself. Should be....revealing.

I can't believe it's freakin' September tomorrow! Have I mentioned I'm more than a little nervous about winter??? Shannon and I have taken to turning the oven on to warm up our place and it's still +20 C out there! Ouch!

Hope all of you are doing well. Keep me updated on your lives!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

So, it's been about 2 years since I returned from Tanguieta in Benin, West Africa. It was there I lived in a tiny little concrete house with roommate Ann Elyse Merrit, from New York State. She and I lived and worked together for 8 months and had so much fun! And now she is getting married.

AND I GET TO GO!!!!!! Yup! I get to see Ann Elyse for the first time in 2 years AND I get to see my directors from Benin, Matt and Sarah and their 2 boys! I am so excited for so many reasons. To catch up, to celebrate, to go on a mini trip....and yes, in the back of my mind, there is this thought that maybe God will speak to me about my life and my future because I'll be with my Beninoise family again...Oh, Africa...can't seem to let you go.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bryce Part II

So, the funeral for my cousin's child, Bryce, was harder than I expected. I drove to Camrose with my friend Dana and her two children, a three hour drive wondering and talking. After we dropped off Dana's kids at a friend's, we went over to the church. The first person I recognized was my aunt and upon seeing the look of anguish on her face, I rushed over and just hugged her tight. You must understand, I don't see my extended family much at all. In fact the last time I saw Wes and Colleen, Bryce's parents, was at their wedding a few years ago. We're just not that great at keeping in touch. But a funeral just isn't the place for small talk, and that was ok for me. Looking back, I saw it as an opportunity for me to just be present and to support my suffering family.

I've never been to a funeral where the actual deceased person is there, so I was pretty shocked to see a pale faced, doll-like body in this tiny coffin laden with silk and covered in flowers. I never got to meet Bryce. I was in SA for most of his short life. But my mom remarked solemnly afterwards that the body in the coffin wasn't Bryce. He was obviously gone from that body.

After the funeral we drove in a huge procession to the Bawlf Lutheran Cemetery, 20 minutes away. Bawlf is a tiny town of about 300 people where I spent the first 7 years of my life. They buried Bryce under a grove of small trees, right across from my grandfather who died when I was so young, I didn't understand death. I still don't understand death. I've never been to an internment as they call it either. It's so strange that this person once alive and able to be touched and able to respond, is now locked in a box and hidden beneath the ground. How do the ones most grieved, Wes and Colleen, walk away? How is anyone able to walk away?

We didn't stay at the cemetery long. I stared at the headstone of my grandfather's grave for awhile until my cousin, Aaron, came over and gave me a giant hug. I haven't seen him in a long time either. I guess funerals will encourage this: I felt it necessary to make sure my family knew I loved and appreciated them very much! And I decided I should not be so lazy about correspondence.

Finally, we went to the reception at the Bawlf Lutheran Church, where I spent many Vacation Bible Schools, Christmases and Easters...it still smells the same! How vivid my childhood memories were as we sat around plastic table-cloth covered tables, eating home-baked squares and drinking coffee, my whole extended family there. We watched a presentation of pictures of Bryce's life; my uncle behind me choked up when the photo of him baptizing Bryce came up. I think the hardest part was seeing just how hard Bryce's death has been for the entire family. I'm still struggling to get it to all fit inside my head.

Dana and I picked up her kids; both very glad, her way more than me, to see happy, healthy children alive and growing, greet us at the door. It may be cliche, but it so true...

You don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Jess! I miss you! Wouldn't Daniel rather quit the "AIR FORCE" and become a Canadian instead??? I almost have my American friends converted!!! Ah! Who am I kidding? I'm off to some tropically warm place as soon as I can! Forget this cold crap!!!

I'm so so cold...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oh how glorious it is to sleep in! I usually can't do this, but I slept in until noon today! I attribute it to the crappy weather out there. Grey skies make staying in my warm bed much more appealing than going on that run I assured myself I would go on today. But mmmm....this coffee is nice, reading e-mails is nice, talking to my big, little brother on the phone. He called me! He just bought a house with a firefighter buddy of his! Congrats little bro!

Gonna go strum....

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bryce

Yesterday morning I found out my cousin's first child, Bryce, a one year old boy, passed away from cancer. He had been sick since he was born, had treatment, went into remission and then the cancer came back, much too strong for treatment this time. I'm not exactly sure what I can write in light of this, so, please pray for my cousin Wes, his wife Colleen and the rest of the family. Thank you.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Welcome To My New Home!

Well, I've finally made it! I am in my own place! We moved all the rest of my stuff and all of Shannon's stuff today with the help of my family! Thanx guys! Then Shannon and I went shopping for necessities like a toilet cleaning brush, a garbage can, shower curtain and iced coffees! (It was a record 31 degrees here in Calgary! Yessss!!! We needed to rehydrate).

It feels sooooo nice to finally have a place to call my home. Tonight, after our fine dinner of KD, we decided to chill, drank some wine, ate cheese and grapes and watched Garden State on my laptop. It was a nice way to begin our new living arrangement! Cheers to our new place!

That's it, that's all for now cuz I'm pooped from the day!
Ciao!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Different Is OK

This is when I know I am...well...different...
  • My fellow Calgarians comment on the extreme 30 degree C weather while I am finally just getting comfortable again. (I've been so cold).
  • Fellow staff members don't comment on my choice of music on the radio- a mix of French West African/World beat rhythms, they just give me weird looks
  • The suprising passion that rises up in me when someone mentions anything having to do with, Africa or other developing nations, poverty, race, war, disease etc. etc. And my shock right after, of the lack of equal passion in those I'm talking with (I think I'm coming off just a bit too strong).

I don't mind being different, in fact, I may strive to be my own person in a world that dictates everything I ought to say, do, believe, want...but it does get a bit lonely. God, don't you think I ought to go back to Africa?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

My Elusive Something

Hmmmm....like the new look? I do. Orangey-brown, mellow, like how I'm feeling today.

"...Day and night, I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me,
saying,
'Where is this God of yours?'...

...Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember your kindness...

...I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.

Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me.
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to the God who gives me life..."

-some of Psalm 42

Ever feel like your missing something but the harder you try to figure it out, the more elusive it becomes?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Ha! Sorry for not updating in a while. I just bought a wireless card for my laptop because the place I'm moving into is wireless (yipee)! But I couldn't get it to connect to the internet until now. Just to point out, I figured it out all on my own!!! I'm developing into a real techno-babe! Yessssss!
I have moved now. Not everything, but all the stuff I had in the room I stayed in at the Dancey's (THE DANCEY'S ROCK)!!!! Thanx guys for putting up with me for 2 months! So now I am occupying a room in the upstairs of my pastor's house. He and his family will eventually move up here and I will be downstairs with roomie Shannon (we lived together with my sister about 4 years ago in a wicked place in Hillhurst! I miss that place). Then I will begin the responsible actions of paying rent, cleaning up after myself, buying groceries and all that jazz! Not that I wasn't doing that before, well, everything except for the rent thing. (THE DANCEY'S ROCK)!!!! Thanx for letting me mooch off of you for 2 months! I'm still working at the coffee shop and soon I will start back at the museum (I can't get away from that place)! I still have no plans for the immediate or near distant future. I keep wondering if I want to go back to school, and if so, to study what? International development? Social work? Bible College? UofA to study French and Arabic. (Don't ask).
_________

Shannon and I went to the Stampede last night. We scored free tickets and decided to just go ahead and do the Stampede thing. I can't believe how many people actually dress up now! I remember when it was definitely NOT cool to dress western for the Stampede unless you did it so you could wear jeans to work for a change...anyway, now it's the fashion to have a beat up and faded looking cowboy hat made out of straw. Not a pristine white Stetson. It reminds me of my buddy Mike's hat and he's from LA. Are we being influenced by those tres fashionable Americans again? I have to admit, I almost bought a lacy, faded lime green hat; the edges all bent out of shape but not to wear in Calgary. Heavens no! To take with me to the next foreign country I go to, because for some reason, it seems much cooler that way, cuz I'd be the only one to have a crazy lime green cowboy hat! I think I'M being influenced here!

We walked around the grounds, tried to gain a bit of culture in Indian Village (since when is it ok to say "Indian"? I thought we were supposed to be politically correct and say "First Nations.") Then we went to the exhibition hall to watch all the demonstrations (make your life easier cooking utensils/appliances, fancy new tools for the tool box, jewelry, clothes, art, cars...)The art section was awesome!
Then we decided to get a beer in the casino but being the big drinkers we are, we both left almost half our drinks in there in favor of mini-donuts and corndogs instead. First we watched David Usher play and sing, he is really good live! I like his hair.
We finshed off by freezing our tooshies off waiting for the fireworks on the hill in front of the Saddledome. It was worth the wait. They were really brilliant. Now I can say I've been there, done that, for this year at least. It's all over today. It's kinda sad cuz then there really isn't much left of summer. Just August and half of September if we're lucky. Oh Lord, how am I going to survive winter? Isn't there a warm country I can run off to???

Well, just one last sentence or two. My friend Jessica flew off to Louisiana today to meet up with her army dude fiance. She'll be becoming an American pretty soon, and starting a whole new life there. Don't forget us way up here freezing in Canada! Be blessed Jess!

Ciao

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Foolishness

Once again, I have a quote from the same book that, yes, I am STILL reading. Sometimes I am choked by the weight of these words; sometimes I laugh at how true they are in my life and sometimes, I want to throw this book across the room in frustration...well anyway, here goes...

"Inspection stickers used to have printed on the back 'Drive carefully - the life you save may be your own.' That is the wisdom of men in a nutshell. What God says, on the other hand, is 'The life you save is the life you lose.' In other words, the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself; and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living. To bring his point home, God shows us a man who gave his life away to the extent of dying a national disgrace without a penny in the bank or a friend to his name. In terms of men's wisdom, he was a perfect fool, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without making something like the same kind of fool of himself is laboring under not a cross but a delusion. -Frederick Buechner"

-Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey

!!!Wow!!!

I keep wondering, am I trying too hard to keep my life to myself for fear that if I allow God to do whatever He wants with my life, others may consider me foolish?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Stampede!


These are not just ANY pancakes, check out the insignia on the butter! Those are Calgary Stampede pancakes! Mmmmm.... Posted by Picasa

Yup! The Stampede has officially begun. 10 days of cowboys (both real and fake), disgusting, greasy, but oh-so-tasty midway food, fireworks, tourists, First Nations folks living in teepees, livestock and the SMELL of livestock and hopefully, higher than 25 degree days! I'm soooo sick of being so cold all the time!

Man! I love Calgary!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Burden

My burden grows steadily
Heavy across my already tense shoulders
With every question
Every doubt of your intentions
Every ache for past love
Every lonely memory of extraordinary experiences
As I wait impatiently for the bus, in the rain.

It's not that I don't believe,
It's all these pieces I try anxiously,
Tirelessly to fit together.
It's the deepness unable to be voiced
Swallowing me up in its vastness.
It's a desperation trying to work it out before it's too late
It's the extra weight each day seems to add
Heavy,
Heavier,
But
I
Won't
Crack!
Stubborness to hold on
Fear to let go

This is all there is left to define me
This weight,
To lose it....

Then who will I be?
And who will you be?

Bailey's Milkshakes and Tofu Burritos

I finally got in touch with my Sudanese family who I got to know before I went to S.A. They are refugees who had spent 2 years in Egypt before they got to come here. We made a plan to meet up and I was SO excited! I brought presents from S.A. and my camera...but after travelling 3 hours on various buses, I could not find their house! It was the most absurd thing! It should have been #58. So I walked past #60, then #56, but no 58. I even asked the neighbor, but they didn't know. So I walked and walked and walked for probably an hour trying to find their house and ended up having to go home after all that! Another hour and a half! I was tired, a little sunburned with blisters now forming on the bottom of my feet. The last walk up the hill to my house was done barefoot (made me think of South Africans running around everywhere barefoot).
Turns out, I got the house number wrong. It was something like 240! Not 58! How'd I mess that up? I was so frustrated by then I just had to make a Bailey's milkshake to calm my nerves! So, I'm gonna try again on Sunday. I'll let you know how it turns out!

My mom, in an effort to help me feel better, took me out the next day to my doc appt, so I didn't have to take the bus! Then she lovingly helped me pick out ingredients to make tofu burritos that she and my stepdad gobbled up as though it was really great! I mean, they weren't bad, but I just love that they are willing to experience the wierd and bizarre with me. I know one day they will come and work with me somewhere in Africa! How amazing would that be?

Saturday, July 02, 2005


My friend N'tcha and I in Benin Posted by Picasa

I just got a letter from this friend of mine. I haven't heard from anyone from Benin in a while, aside from my directors there and my former roomate from the US, so it was very exciting for me. N'tcha is taking an agriculture course in Cotonou, on the coast of Benin, which is so exciting because he'll be able to come back to Tanguieta and help the villages!

Mmmm....Benin.....wonder if I'll find myself back there one day?

Friday, July 01, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!!!

Canada is 138 years old today! Woo-hoo! We had a Canada day BBQ, ate lots of Alberta beef (yum!), drank ONLY Canadian beer, and watched an episode of a Corner Gas, a Canadian sitcom based in Saskatchewan. It's actually pretty darn funny! And in keeping with our multi-cultural heritage, we even had a guest from Thailand!
Does anyone know the "I Am Canadian" beer commercial? Yah, they played it today on the radio and I just had to laugh at how we fight so hard to be UN-like our fine neighbors to the South. (Confession time: I actually like Americans.)
Only a few more days until the Stampede starts! I love Stampede Week! Pancake breakfasts, here I come!!!





Monday, June 27, 2005

Another Passage From the Book I'm Reading...

"I have learned one absolute principle in calculating God's presence or absence, and that is that I cannot. God, invisible, sovereign, who according to the psalmist, 'does whatever pleases Him,' sets the terms of the relationship. As the theologian Karl Barth insisted so fiercely, God is free: free to reveal himself or conceal himself, to intervene or not intervene, to work within nature or outside it, to rule over the world or even to be despised and rejected by the world, to display himself or limit himself. Our own human freedom derives from a God who cherishes freedom.

I cannot control such a God. At best I can put myself in the proper frame to meet him. I can confess sin, remove hindrances, purify my life, wait expectantly, and-perhaps hardest of all- seek solitude and silence. I offer no guaranteed method to obtain God's presence, for God alone governs that. Solitude and silence merely supply the state most conducive to attending to the still, small voice of God. There is, however, a sure way to promote God's absence. C.S. Lewis sets it out clearly:

'Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you'd be safer to stick to the papers. You'll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or a snobbish appeal.' "
Reaching for the Invisible God
By Philip Yancey
Hmmmm.....wonder why God feels so far away these days.......? Gotta go find me a quiet, solitary place.
Bye

Monday, June 20, 2005

Perspective

I had a really good Sunday. Though I have been battling mild flu-like symptoms for a week (malaria???), I still enjoyed it. I first had coffee with my pastor/brother/friend/fellow journeyer, Rob. Now, he is just an all around cool guy and he gets me. He helps me see things in perspective and perspective is a VERY valuable thing! So I realized my need to be easier on myself, allow myself time to chill, to not be afraid to feel and express the various emotions I have been feeling. I left that meeting more positive and way more encouraged that this is all part of the plan. Like my blog says, it's all about the Journey.

So then I went to this Sudanese church with my friend Shannon. I have to say, Sudanese people are Gorgeous! Tall and very dark and regal. They were so happy to have visitors and we chatted with some of them. We were introduced to one of the church elders, Gabriel, who I realized I'd met last year when I was volunteering with a refugee family. He remembered me too which was awesome and I just started to really relax. It felt familiar.... a nice feeling. Genuine lovers of Jesus, colourful clothes, dancing, clapping (no djembi though).... I might have to go back.

And after that we went to my mom's house to celebrate Father's Day with my stepdad Rolly. It is a strange thing to be celebrating Father's Day again after quite a few years of not and for someone who's not my biological dad. But Rolly has been a healing balm in all our lives; he's an answer to prayer and I'm very happy to let him know how thankful I am for him.

Ciao!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Make It Last

I know I need to update. I just don't know what to write. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Ok, so, the DTS students came back from their outreaches and have their de-briefing this week in and graduation at Beautiful Gate and all of a sudden, I am insanely jealous that they'll be all together again and having fun in the training centre. Beth and Annelies will be back in our dorm room, but I won't be there! I really miss having bunches of people to hang out with!

BUT....really cool thing I'm looking forward to, though small I feel it is important, I'm going to the Sudanese church this afternoon with my friend Shannon. Yah! Africans! Cool!

Masalama, Chokran (not the correct spelling of the only Arabic words I know),
Nicole

Friday, June 10, 2005

Re: Question for Discussion

In regards to the question for discussion (thank you Heidi for your thoughts, you Rock!):

Maybe I have posed the wrong question. Maybe the question should be, How do we make marriage work and last and be fulfilling to both people? And how do we love those who have been hurt by marriage and how can God use us to bring healing to their hearts?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Question for Discussion

Ok, I receieved an e-mail from a dear friend of mine who is struggling right now with this issue and I'm just curious and wondered what people's views/thoughts are on the whole marriage thing, specifically, marriage after divorce. Like, in light of Scripture, how do you interpret that? Is it ok for a Christian to marry a person who has been divorced? Under what circumstances is it ok or not ok? Throw your thoughts out there, that is if anyone is out there reading this!

Personally, I think it becomes a very personal decision between the two people and God. And I think it has a lot to do with what circumstances surrounded the divorce in the first place. Was the person abandoned, cheated on, abused? Not a Christian at the time? Then I think God is big and redeems all situations if we allow Him into our lives and desires for us to be fulfilled and happy. Not that marriage should take the place of God in our lives who wants to fulfill us Himself, but an extension of His blessing in our lives as we seek to know Him. And that's as far as I'm gonna go right now cuz I haven't actually sat down and studied the Scripture or asked God what He thinks. :-)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!


What my mom taught me....there is always a reason to laugh! Life is hard but it is also fun! Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

I'm in A London Fog


His Love is Deeper Posted by Hello
So, I'm at work, making coffee, being polite, blah, blah, when 2 people come in. Sonja (my boss) and I chat with them a little (we like to chat with people). They order, I start making their drinks and I overhear the girl say she was visiting Rhodes Memorial in South Africa when she first had Rooibos tea. So, of course, I excitedly turn to her and say, you were just in South Africa? I just came back from there too! She casually looked in my direction and made some sort of noise similar to "huh" and continued talking to the guy she was with. Now, at first I was just like, ok, whatever, carry on. But then I hear them talking some more and realize these guys are Christians and as I am facing the espresso bar steaming milk, I just feel this overwhelming sense of sadness because I just really wanted to talk to them ya know? Share a couple stories in a brief moment. Connect. And you know, there are probably plenty of reasons why she was so indifferent and plenty of reasons why I'm so upset about it. I mean, it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. Why did it strike at such a tender area of my heart? Maybe because I know I had something to offer in that moment and believe me, working in a coffee shop, any chance I have to offer who I really am is rare. And I just wish, beyond all wishing, that relationships between Christians could be so much more than they are. Am I expecting too much?Meh, I might be making more of this than necessary but does anyone understand? I'm not sure if I even do. Just wanted to spill.....

Friday, June 03, 2005

Lord, To Whom Shall I Go?

So, the job's goin' ok, except today I spilled boiling water over my hand and was out of commission for a good half hour during the busiest time of our day! Grrrrr!!!! That was dumb! Well, all the more reason to look forward to spending the weekend at my friend's cabin in the mountains of BC!

Thought I'd share a passage from a book a very wise leader and good friend gave to me before I left South Africa. It's from "Reaching for the Invisible God" by Philip Yancey...

"Examining my own periods of faithlessness, I see in them all manner of unbelief. Sometimes I shy away for lack of evidence, sometimes I slink away in hurt or disillusionment, and sometimes I turn aside in willful disobedience. Something, though, keeps drawing me back to God. What? I ask myself.

'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?' said Jesus' disciples in words that resonate in every doubter. Jesus' listeners found themselves simultaneously attracted and repelled, like a compass needle brought close to a magnet. As his words sank in, one by one the crowd of onlookers and followers slouched away, leaving only the Twelve. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked them in a tone somewhere between plaintiveness and resignation. As usual, Simon Peter spoke up: 'Lord, to whom shall we go?'

That, for me, is the bottom-line answer to why I stick around. To my shame, I admit that one of the strongest reasons I stay in the fold is the lack of good alternatives, many of which I have tried. 'Lord, to whom shall I go?' The only thing more difficult than having a relationship with an invisible God is having no such relationship."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

If At First You Don't Succeed....

Ok, so it has only taken me a whole week, maybe more to figure this posting photos to my blogspot thing. But, I did it! I figured it out and now I think I need to go outside and not stare at this screen any longer!

I will update later. With pics! Hope evereyone is well. Hope you're actually reading this!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Jazz/Funk

My sister Michelle and I decided to drop in on this dance class last night just for fun. We both danced when we were children and still love to do it. It was pretty fun. "Jazz/Funk" is what they called it. If you know any jazz dance terminology, man it took me back to the days of sequins, shiny tights, loud costumes, ringlets and competitions. "step ball change", "chasse", "box step"..... I can't believe how easily my body remembered how to do the steps! Anyway, Michelle thinks I should just start signing my paychecks over to the studio and take every class they offer(ha ha), and they have some good ones! African dance, African drumming, hip-hop, tap, belly-dancing (well, maybe not belly-dancing). She thinks I need to immerse myself into the things I love to do while I am sort of waiting and trying to figure out what I want to do next with my life. Well, it's nice to have people around who know me and know what I love!


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Practicing The Fine Art of Chillin' Out!

So I started work at this coffee shop near me. It's got an enclosed play area for children so that parents can relax, drink their java while their kiddies run around. It's a great idea. The place has only been open a little over a year. The owners are super nice and once I get the hang of things, I think I'll enjoy it. It's stressful starting any new thing, especially a job. For me, it's been such a struggle; a humbling experience, to come home and not have a purpose. I guess that's part of why I'm here. To figure that out. I mean, as hard and challenging and tiring as it was to work at Beautiful Gate sometimes, at least I had a purpose there. Even if it wasn't what I wanted that purpose to be....it seems the grass is always greener, hindsight is 20/20, that sort of thing.

Something I absolutely MUST learn to do, is CHILL OUT!

Ok, I'm gonna go practice chillin' out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Big Word of the Day

Tautology... something like using excessive words such as "very redundant".

That's it. I haven't actually given out my blogger address to anyone yet cuz I'm a little freaked out to have people access my strange thoughts on things, but I think I'll let you in on it eventually....I'm such a dork!

Monday, May 09, 2005

O Canada

I've been wondering these past few days since I've been home, what makes Canadians different from the rest of the world? I don't know if everyone is just sleepy still from winter, but people seem quieter here, more reserved, in their own worlds a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be home and I love Canada, but I've just come from one of the livliest places I've ever been to. Cape Town is busy, big, moving, vibrant and interested in...me. People there want to know where I'm from and what I'm doing. Strangers aren't exactly strangers there. They are potential friends.

Well, I guess I still have a lot to process. I am sooooo tired still from the travelling and the thinking. A lot of thinking. Too much thinking? I need to find some place or people to be totally silly with so I can laugh at myself and put things into perspective.

I'll be back

Cheers,
Nicole

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Last Few Hours in South Africa

As I sit here at the computer, just hours away from a physical journey that will take me from Cape Town, South Africa, back home to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, I begin to think of the past 7 months and all I've experienced during the wildly exciting, sometimes downright bleak and disturbing journey that my spirit took while here. Studying and working (volunteering) at Beautiful Gate in Crossroads has sharpened my desire for Truth. Who is this God I claim to believe in and serve? What does He think about me? What does He think about missions and HIV/Aids, and all our strivings to be 'good Christians?' Is there more to living this life than I realize? Do I really know anything at all?

I have so many questions and I guess that's why I'm here. I hope as I question and seek God for the answers that I will grow in my love and desire for Him. As I do that, I'm sure He will lead me to places and people I never dreamed of. At least I know this: my God is extravagant in His giving. He always exceeds my expectations!

I look forward to letting you know what sorts of things I see along this part of my path. I don't think it will always be easy-ok, I know it won't always be easy, but I have all of you! That's what makes this living stuff so great. Relationships with God and with you.

Ok! Gotta FLY! 'Leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again....'

You'll hear from me in Canada!